Punta Tombo, Patagonia, Argentina
Why is it so hot? I thought penguins were supposed to live in the cold, on snow, surrounded by icebergs.
Instead they’re standing in the dunes, far from the water, in direct sunlight on a 40 degree day.
They’re panting in the heat. So am I. This is not what I expected from a penguin colony.
It’s not even like just a couple of them got confused and thought the Argentinian summer would be a nice break from the freezing temperatures of Antarctica. There are more than one million penguins here at Punta Tombo, making it the largest colony in South America.
Obviously it’s not the penguins who are confused, but me. I guess I was expecting ‘Happy Feet’ but instead got ‘Floppy Heat’.
This is the natural habitat of the Magellanic Penguins, which spend their time on the coastlines of Argentina, Chile and Brazil.
Here at Punta Tombo they make their nests from September to April and the next generation is born.
They’re monogamous animals and breed with the same partner each year.
In September the males come to shore and prepare the nest. The females then join them and lay two eggs.
Both the mother and the father will guard and incubate the eggs and when the chicks are born both parents will continue to care for the young.
Argentina’s penguins at Punta Tombo
They share the duties but, in recent times, this arrangement has been threatening their very existence.
While one of the penguins swims out to sea to feed itself, the other takes on the domestic duties in the nest. The animal feeding in the ocean might be gone for quite a few days while it finds food and, in the meantime, its partner waits and starves.
Over the past few years, though, climate change has meant the food source has moved further away and the penguins have had to swim an extra 40 kilometres or so to feed. The extra time away from the nest has meant the partner waiting sometimes dies from starvation.
The Magellanic Penguins are now listed as a ‘threatened species’. The population numbers are declining for several reasons – climate change being one of them.
During a visit to Punta Tombo, looking around, it’s hard to imagine they are under threat. There are literally hundreds of thousands of penguins as you walk through the colony.
They stand at the entrance to their nests, panting in the heat and watching you with a wary eye; they gather in groups around puddles of water on the pathway; they waddle from bush to bush looking confused and lost; and they lie in the shade of shrubs as their feathers malt off ahead of the new season.
The penguins seem comfortable with the humans who walk around them and weave between their nests. They also seem comfortable with the warmth of their surroundings.
How unfortunate that the humans are creating a warmth on this planet that is killing many of these animals in a most uncomfortable way.
25 thoughts on “Millions of happy feet”
Glad you made it here! One of my favorite memories from my travels 🙂
Yeah, I just loved walking around them. It’s so cool they way they just stand there and look at you.
Aww they’re so cute! It’s weird to see penguins not on snow! Great post.
It’s super weird to see them in such a hot climate.
Love this post! And love penguins! 🙂
How cute are they?! 🙂
Penguins are possibly the cutest animals ever, lovely shots!
It makes me really want to go and see the larger ones in Antarctica now! Oh well… maybe one year…
Oh I love penguins. And like you I also saw them in the heat for the first time… in Simon’s Town in South Africa… 😀
Oh, I hadn’t heard about the ones in South Africa. I’ll have to check it out sometime when I get there!
Oh, I’ve seen them in hot weather, too (at the zoo). They’re quite resilient in the wild though, I’ve always thought. But I’d also love to see them in person. I think they always act so well and cute with one another. What a great place to visit!
It’s quite funny to watch them pant in the heat. They’re not uncomfortable – it’s just the way they manage the temperature of their bodies. But you don’t expect it from penguins.
They are so cute!
Fun photos – makes me want to visit 😉
The best time of year is from about November to March, so try to fit it in to a trip south sometime!
i like the first pic.. that’s so cute… would love to see happy feet too.. hoping someday.. 😀
I know – the first pic looks like the penguin is just going for an afternoon stroll down the path. How cute!
So cute! Gorgeous pics! I want to see penguins too! Real ones, in their natural habitat!
This is a great way to see them in the wild. But it’s not the same as seeing them on the ice, I imagine.
So adorable! We love penguins.
And these ones were so cute!!
I thought those penguins looked familiar, and then when I saw they were from Punta Tombo in Argentina I knew we’d previously met.
Ha! Those penguins are just following you around the world!! 🙂
Hey! 🙂 Thanks for sharing this awesome pictures. Love to see the Happy Feets 🙂
All the best, Christoph
Thanks Christoph! I always smile when I look back at these photos! 🙂
former dinosaurs thank for your efforts to help these