A piece of scientific history was revealed this week after a copy of George Murray Levick's Sexual Habits of the Adélie Penguin was unearthed at Britain's Natural History Museum. Mr. Levick, the medical officer on Captain Robert Scott's ill-fated Terra Nova expedition to the South Pole and an avid biologist, is still the only scientist to have spent an entire breeding season at the Adélie rookery on brutal Cape Adare.
Writing about it later, fellow explorer Apsley Cherry-Garrard said of the Adare camp: "They ate blubber cooked with blubber, had blubber lamps. Their clothes and gear were soaked with blubber and the soot blackened them, their sleeping bags, cookers, walls and roof, choked their throats and inflamed their eyes. Blubbery clothes are cold … and so stiff … they would stand up by themselves … "
However, what's revealed by Sexual Habits of the Adélie Penguin, labelled "not for publication" in large letters, is that these nightmarish conditions weren't the only thing that tormented Mr. Levick. So horrified was he by the "depraved" sex lives of his subjects that he recorded all of their "perverted" activities in Greek, lest they infect the morals of the non-scientific populace.
Mailed to me anonymously this week is what appears to be a transcript of Mr. Levick's journal from that time. Sent separately was an elegant Moleskin diary apparently kept concurrently by one Winston Keenan Sinclair, a penguin from another Adélie rookery, over a nearby hill.
I have assembled these entries here, chronologically.
Nov. 11, 1911: Pitched camp at Cape Adare. Penguins everywhere! Delightful little fellows. Looking forward to studying them.
– G.M. Levick
Nov. 11: Stunning day! Hoping for a clear view of Jupiter tonight and excited to report a new neighbour in the vicinity! A tall fellow has settled in below. Appears to have instruments! I look forward to meeting this fellow man of science soon. I do, however, wonder why he's chosen to move there. – W.K. Sinclair
Nov. 12: The penguins appear most convivial with one another. There's also much schoolboy rough-housing. As soon as I've unpacked my enormous supply of food that I cannot possibly deplete, I'll begin my observations proper. – Levick
Nov. 16: Wandered the escarpment today but failed to encounter my new neighbour. I don't often visit that area. No one does. I can't believe the council doesn't do something.
Nov. 19: Supplies adequate. Am starting to wonder if I've arrived in the middle of some sort of festival.
Nov. 21: Positioned my telescope on the cliff for what the papers report will be a decent meteor shower.
Clattered about a bit.
Wondered if the tall visitor might want to join old Micallef and me for a natter and a sherry, but it seems not.– Sinclair
Dec. 3: Dirty, dirty birds. – Levick
Dec. 14: Dropped invitation to upcoming series of lectures given by local architectural association from the cliff, but tall man of science ate it. Without reading. Curious.
Dec. 19: Opened the flap of my tent (now replaced with a strip of blubber) only to be confronted by a writhing, shrieking, moaning mass of penguin flesh. My soul is tarnished. Wanted to go back to bed but could only stand and stare.– Levick
Dec. 19: Bloody tourist. – Sinclair
Dec. 22: I ate two biscuits, and my bed. It's not a festival. – Levick
Dec 22: I am just going outside and may be some time. – Sinclair
Dec. 24: Dear God, while the chick is watching! The chick is still on his feet! And that lady penguin's been dead for three days. I ate the tent flap. – Levick
Dec. 24: I'm back! You would not believe the lineup at Fortnum & Mason!
Came round the Adare side. Whistling Schubert. Still no introduction to my new neighbour. Seems an odd chap. Eats snow.– Sinclair
Jan. 6, 1912: Please, penguins. Not with the beak. – Levick
Jan. 15: Page from visitor's notebook blew here today.
At first delighted to see the chap knows his Greek. However, he is disgusting.– Sinclair
Jan. 22: How's that even possible? Don't the feathers get in the way?
Jan. 25: Old Micallef mentioned he'd have enjoyed some fresh blood for our Robbie Burns night this evening, but I rather thought "No." – Sinclair
Feb. 9: Desperate to leave this God-forsaken land. Fear I'm going mad. I think the penguin on the hill is watching me. Last night I dreamt of eating him, and worse. – Levick
Feb. 10: It seems our distant "man of science" has left us. Reprobate. I imagine his type always tell people they come here for the weather.
Inaugural meeting of The Gilbert and Sullivan Society at 5! Excited!
Full moon.– Sinclair