In a prose passage like this, the author is describing the life of an animal, mammal, the penguin in the first person, when the author is together with some other travelers, going to Antarctica, or more specifically going to St Andrew's Bay.
The author is describing the life of the penguins and also, sometimes comparing it to the life of us humans. A the beginning of this passage, the author is describing the penguins as inspectors. They just stand still and don't care about anything that is going on, in their habitat. Even when people enter their habitat, they tend to ignore that fact just walk around the person. Also if you make eye contact, the penguins will just look away, they would look back.
This is so because, they aren't afraid of the humans and the boats they come in, the danger comes from above, the only thing that they should be scared of are other birds that fly from there, they swooping skuas that fly away from their eggs and chicks, which can catch them in order for the bird to eat the penguins themselves and have food. Other from that the penguins aren't afraid of the sea or the land from where they live. As the penguins would be just standing there, all the people who would be coming into St. Andrews Bay would think that they are being watch.
Many of the people who were arriving on the land, were echoing how much the penguins are cute. But in real fact, a penguins life is not that cute at all, and it's not much of a life being a penguin. By the end of the prose passage, the author turn her perspective completely about the penguins. We see that the skuas has gotten the penguin and the author could see the penguins ingury on the penguins side, as the skuas was waiting for the penguin to collapse, so it could take the food to it's offspring.
We can compare the life of a penguin, with the life of the humans, how we at first, seem calm and nothing bothers us, but really and truly there would be...