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Title image - BAI takes you to: Torres del Paine

Patagonia: Torres del Paine Expedition Dispatch

January 31, 2010 – Our Boat Trip to Isla Magdalena Penguin Colony in the Straits of Magellan

On Sunday morning we took a short boat trip to visit Isla Magdelena, a short distance out from Punta Arenas in the Straits of Magellan.

Isla Magdelena is desolate and abandoned most of the year. But during their breeding season, between November and February each year, it is home to more than 150,000 Magellanic Penguins.

These fascinating flightless birds of the Southern Ocean captivated us as we wandered around their home for a while. They are monogamous, staying with one mate year after long year in what proves to be a demanding and dangerous cycle of life.

The scarcity of fish that may be a result of climate change or over-fishing by humans means that the Magellanic Penguins have to swim further and further each year to feed their families. Amazingly when they return to Isla Magdelena, each couple knows its own burrow from years past and they move right back in.

The chicks must have all their fur lovingly removed by the parents in order to become seaworthy and ready to swim out into the cold ocean world.

Monumento Natural Los Pinguinos

Monumento Natural Los Pinguinos

Can you imagine returning to this place and trying to remember which apartment us yours?

Can you imagine returning to this place and trying to remember which apartment us yours?

Moving back in…

Moving back in…

Penguin Love

Penguin Love

Any time you see a group of penguins, there initially seems to be nothing going on but chaos.

Any time you see a group of penguins, there initially seems to be nothing going on but chaos.

Then someone starts off with a sense of direction or purpose and others will follow. 

Then someone starts off with a sense of direction or purpose and others will follow. 

Hey, what are you looking at?

Hey, what are you looking at?

Time for a snack

Time for a snack

Mom working on removing my hair so that I can swim

Mom working on removing my hair so that I can swim

The Penguin Reproductive Cycle

The Penguin Reproductive Cycle

The females can identify their mate by his voice.   This fellow seems to have lost his wife.

The females can identify their mate by his voice.   This fellow seems to have lost his wife.

Sea lions do not make life easy.  There are a lot of them and they love to snack on penguins.

Sea lions do not make life easy.  There are a lot of them and they love to snack on penguins.

We could not tell if this sea lion moment was romantic or if there was a fight going on.

We could not tell if this sea lion moment was romantic or if there was a fight going on.

Leila dressed warm after our hike just before we got back on the boat to leave the island.

Leila dressed warm after our hike just before we got back on the boat to leave the island.

A great place to visit.  After 1 1/2 hours we left the penguins to their business and sailed away.

A great place to visit.  After 1 1/2 hours we left the penguins to their business and sailed away.