Puerto Madryn, Argentina, Day 22, Sat., 2/21/09

     Today is penguin day!  Our group met at 7:30 in the cool lounge and then headed out to our bus.  It is about a 2 1/2 hour ride, but with our stop it was about 3.  From Madryn to Punto Tombo it is 181 km. or about 109 miles if my math is correct.  We drove on Rt. 3 to 75 to 1 to a dirt road.There was really not much to see.  The land was for the most part flat and dry.  We crossed the Chubut River. 

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This is what we saw from the window.  The little white triangle happens to be a memorial on the side of the road.

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It was so cool to be so close to the Magellan Penguins.  Early September every year the males arrive in Punta Tombo and repair the burrow from previous years.  Sometime later the females arrive and early October thee females lay two eggs.  The chicks hatch after forty days of incubation where both parents ply an active role.  Penguins are monogamous, although they might change partner whenever they fail to rear a chick until fledging.

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They nest up to 800 meters (or about 866.66 yards if math is right) off the shore, but the features of the landscape often turn their walk to and from the sea for foraging purposes to a much longer walk.  Both parents look after the burrow and feed their chicks.  As chicks hatch they are covered by dark gray fluffy down; in February these feathers are shed to be replaced by juvenile plumage.  Only after the molting in the following year they will grow adult plumage.  Throughout their adult life they will molt once a year, period during which they will not go to sea.

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Males are scarcely bigger than females and have longer and larger bills.  The average height for both sexes is 45 cm.  The photo below on the left is of a guanaco and the one on the right shows some burrows and penguins.  The penguins have the right of way.

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We couldn’t have asked for a better day.  I didn’t need a jacket.  Many of the penguins were in the shade.

IMG_3785 We had about 50 minutes to shop in town when we returned.  The shadow behind the fence on the right is the Splendor.   We got to the ship about 5:15.  We missed the local folkloric how at 5.  Another great dinner.  Ray and Sarah are at our new table.

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Our entertainment tonight was virtuoso violinist Peter Fisher with a program to suit all tastes.     It is amazing how many different sounds he could get from his violin.

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