Another day in port….still a little time before the rest of my “cruisemates” arrive.  It is another unusually gorgeous and not winding day.  I am told that Punta Arenas means “cold, windy, rainy and horrible” in Spanish.  I have been very lucky with the weather.  I even have a rather unfortunate sunburn (sigh).

What to do? What to do… I know penguins!  Like there was ever any question.  Just outside of Punta Arenas there are several colonies of Magellanic penguins.  Feeling absolutely crippled without a trusty guidebook I randomly picked a tour company.

So it turns out that with my poor Spanish I booked a shuttle to the colony rather than an actual tour.  I really missed the educational spiel about the penguins and there weren’t very many plaques out at the site.  Here is what I learned from eavesdropping on other groups:

The colony we visited has declined from about 12,000 animals to less than 5,000 animals since the year 2000.  The decline was attributed to nearby mining activities.  The penguins dig underground burrows in grassy areas, so were very susceptible to disturbance from underground noise.  The mining has stopped, but the penguin numbers have yet to increase.  This time of year, most of the chicks have been born (Nov 15-Dec10).  Sadly I didn’t see any wee ones poking their noses out of the burrows, but there were a few juveniles around (though none of them wanted to pose for a picture).

Now I give you… pinguineras

That’s it for my exciting port call in Punta Arenas.  It’s going to be a few days before my next pos.  Stay tuned.

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