Penguins in Patagonia

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While in Punta Arenas in January, we arranged to visit the nearby Isla Magdalena by boat to see the Magallanic penguins. They are often called “donkey penguins” because they raise their heads and honk like a donkey in order to posture in front of other penguins or predators. It is said that there are 60,000 breeding pairs on the island.

Two colonies are located near Punta Arenas–Seno Otway or Isla Magdalena. We heard that there were many more penguins to see at the island which is only an hour and a half away from the city. Seno Otway is accessible on the mainland.

The colony on Isla Magdalena seems used to hordes of touristas snapping pictures and cooing over the fat, fuzzy babies. The adults would patiently wait for a clearing in the human pathway so they could cross in a little line. There were also some fat, awkward seagull babies.

When our boat pulled up to the island, I was so excited to see  a beach teaming with penguins.

Beach and Magallanic Penguins

Boat and Penguins

They weren’t waiting for us though. They were coming back from fishing. The babies were nearly as big as the parents when we visited, so the parents kept busy trying to bring home dinner.

They were not the slightest bit curious about us or afraid.

Magallenes Penguins 1

Parent and Baby Penguin

I couldn’t believe the penguins sat above ground when they had the “comfort” of their burrows. The wind and sand were whipping us ferociously. I suppose that compared to Antarctic penguins, living on Isla Magdalena is a sweet life.

While in Antarctica, E. and I were able to see a couple Adeles while working at McMurdo Station, but it was sad because they were separated from the colony and struggling to find their way to other penguins. This is the sweet little Adele we met on the way to Cape Evans hut.

Adele in Antarctica

He was running over snow mounds and frozen lakes for an unknown destination. When he noticed our group, he came staggering up to us as if to say, “Can I join you?” We had to keep our distance. It was a heartbreaking backdrop with the snow and ice shelf.

We also got to see a fairy penguin in New Zealand. A sheep farmer was protecting this little one on the Banks Peninsula hike in the South Island. This penguin was legitimately terrified when humans opened his box. He was molting at the time and sleeping on a bed of old feathers. I really wanted to cup him in my hand.

Fairy Penguin

What was your most memorable animal encounter?

7 Comments

Filed under Animals, Chile

7 responses to “Penguins in Patagonia

  1. Awwww on the baby penguin in the box. I really liked seeing the long-lashed llamas blinking against the wind on the salar trip in Bolivia. But I love all penguins, and baby birds in general. Thanks for posting the pics, and for posting in general!


    I loved your long-lashed llama photos. They always look so smiley, but I’ve heard they are rather surly.

  2. I love your penguin photos! The adult and chick in the burrow are adorable. It must be an amazing experience to be able to get that close to the birds.

    One time Daniel and I were driving along a country road here in Necochea and a pack of rheas that were in a field got spooked by the car. They hopped a wire fence and started running down the road in front of us. Their speed is incredible!

    Hi Katie! I’ve never seen rheas. Do you have any pics on your site?

  3. OOOh! Penguins are really lovely!

    Congratulations for your blog! Very interesting!!

    Keep in touch

  4. Those Magallanic penguins have the most attractive markings. Really enjoyed your pictures – the one of the penguin in Antartica is very moving.

    I guess one of the most memorable animal viewings for me was when we were off Vancouver Island and saw these big walruses on the rocks. Couldn’t believe how big they were. We’re from Sussex, England so this was pretty exciting!!

    Hi Hilary–

    Walruses would be spectacular. I’m assuming you weren’t able to get too close?😉

  5. great pictures!

    unfortunately, my most memorable encounter was being stung by a bark scorpion. nothing as cool as penguins.

    i did see a grey hawk near the mexico border while bird watching that was very exciting.

    but again, multi-continental penguin encounters tops all that!

    I don’t know–being stung by a scorpion certainly is more hard core. I’m impressed!

  6. Amazing photos! They really are cute looking.

    I went whale-watching once, in Newfoundland. . . got pretty close. Unfortunately, almost as soon as we saw the whale, seasickness hit me, and I missed everything from that point on (about 2-1/2 hours’ worth of boat ride!)

    How sad! Which type of whales were they?

  7. What lovely photos! Those penguins are so sweet – and I love that adult & child photo! Off the top of my head I think swimming in the baja in Mexico and seeing a family of dolphins just next to us – then a dumb jet ski came and they were off…

    I would love to swim with dolphins. Did Guppy get to see them?

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