Tuesday, March 07, 2017

What better Valentine's Day gift than this?

A Magellenic Penguin - cute little
thing, isn't (s)he?
Flowers are nice, if a bit unchallenging. Of course, picking the right colour should matter, although I tend to pick colours that I like and hope that that suits the recipient. But, on Valentine's Day, it's the thought that counts, especially if it involves having to make an effort.

And so, this year, I thought about what to do instead, especially as we were going to be a long way from our local florist. And then it struck me - we were going to be convenient for a day out with something cute.

The Natural Monument Los Penguinos is on Isla Magdalena, a small rocky outcrop in the middle of the Straits of Magellan, but an easy boat ride from Punta Arenas. It hosts approximately 60,000 breeding pairs of Magellenic penguins, and the public can go and visit them, as long as they obey the rules - do not touch the penguins, do not leave the roped off path, do not approach within one metre of the penguins (even if they walk across the path!).

It did mean a very early start, but Ros is good at those, and we were soon on the water, heading for the island on a remarkably tranquil day for the region. It didn't take long before we reached Isla Magdalena and there were the penguins - hundreds and hundreds of them, wandering about, digging burrows and swimming in the shallow water on the shoreline.

Everywhere we went, more penguins and it became clear that the more mature penguins got the nesting sites closer to the water, and the relatively junior members of the community had to make their way further inland in order to find a place to nest. It's a fair way from the water, and uphill, so for the juniors, it's hard work to bring food for their chicks.

We only had an hour though, and it was back to the boat for the short journey to Isla Marta. You don't get to go onshore there, but the attraction is the sea lions, who bask of the rocky shore. Some of them swam towards the boat for a closer look whilst our captain made sure that everyone got a good look and plenty of pictures.

Sadly, it was time to head back to shore, but if you happen to be in Punta Arenas, we can strongly recommend the Solo Expediciones tour...

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