A large colony of Magellanic penguins has come to the Punta Tombo peninsula in Argentina to migrate. The colony, numbering more than one million penguins, are attracted to the generous amount of fish, including sardines and anchovies and small crustaceans off the shores of the peninsula. The Magellanic penguins attract thousands of visitors yearly.
Magellanic penguins are South American penguins that breed along the coasts of Argentina, Chile, and the Falkland Islands. Some migrate to Brazil and can be seen as far north as Rio de Janeiro. Named after the Portuguese explorer, Ferdinand Magellan, they are a medium-sized penguin that can be between 24 to 30 inches tall and weigh between six and 14 pounds. They are described as having a recognizable are of pink flesh on their faces with white feathers that extend from their eyes to their chin. The Magellanic penguins are listed as a near threatened species due to climate change, oil spills, and declining fish populations, forcing the penguins to swim further and further for their food.
Punta Tombo is about 70 miles south of the Chubut Province in Argentina. The Punta Tombo Provincial Reserve was declared a protected area in 1979 and is a major tourist attraction in Chubut. Punta Tombo is one part of the Golfo San Jorge marine national park. Thousands of Magellanic penguins migrate to the area to nest and stay until April incubating their eggs.
While the tourism is good for the area, according to The Independent, the tourists can also increase the Penguins’ anxiety, especially in newborn chicks. Using the bushes as shelter, the penguins make small burrows for their eggs. One penguin stands guard while the other collects food from the shore for the other. The Tech Times say the gathering of the Magellanic penguins is the highest in “recent years.”
The Tech Times reported that in 2014, due to weather conditions in Argentina many baby chicks were wiped out by the thousands. Because of the warm and rainy weather, about “50 percent of baby penguins in the region [are] in danger of death.” Dee Boersma, a scientist who conducted a nearly 30-year research with the Magellanic penguins, said that the baby penguins “don’t do well when they get wet.” Because of climate change, “more frequent and intense storms” have affected Magellanic penguins by lowering their “reproductive success,” according to the study done by Boersma’s team of researchers. For now, the Penguins are preparing to begin their migration.
By Cheryl Werber