Of pregnant whales and farting sea elephants

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Here in Peninsula Valdez, Patagonia, Argentina, it is winter, the perfect period for whale watching. In summer, millions of Magellanic Penguins come here for their breeding but at this moment, I only saw few swimming penguins out at sea.

It is whale season now (June to August), where the Southern Right Whales come to breed and give birth to young calves. With deep waters around the bay, it is possible to spend the whole day watching the whales swim close to shore or watch pregnant whales cavort in the waters.

Location : Peninsula Valdez is declared a World Natural Heritage Site by UNESCO, for those who collects UNESCO sites, here’s one for your collection.

The weather was cold (2oC) for first 2 days then pretty warm (20C) and gloomy for the rest. This peninsula experiences two different tides per day, with cold waters from Antarctic and warm waters from Brazil. This varied temperature is excellent, providing rich diverse food for the many animals who migrate here for breeding.

Besides the whales, the Southern Elephant Seals are another to watch  for. There are a few places around the Peninsula where you can get quite close to them, close enough to get attacked should you decide to get in their faces. They do smell bad,  with the frequent comical burps and farts of decomposing fish and dead birds. I visited Punta Ninfa, where a small colony of elephant seals congregate. They were so used to having humans around, they seem quite comfortable with me hanging near them. Punta Ninfa is also a popular site for the locals of Puerto Madryn to go fishing, pick shellfish or just have a day at the beach.

Southern Right Whale is one of the ugliest, they are like the elephant man of the whale species. Barnacles grow on their heads, making each of them quite unique and easily identitable to Marine researchers. Pregnant whales come to the Peninsula to calf, often heavily pregnant females cavort for long periods in the waters to ease calving. Fascinating to watch their tails stick out in the waters.

Here, you can get close to the Elephant seals, they don’t get too bothered with you lying on the ground pretending to be just like one of them. But always remind quiet and don’t get too close, else you would stress the animals or get attacked by them.

Guanacos are everywhere in Patagonia, relatively endangered due to aggressive sheep farming in the region. Apparently related to the camel family, they like to spit at humans just like the temperamental camels.


One response to “Of pregnant whales and farting sea elephants

  1. Wonderful tales and tails!!! Wish I could visit these beautiful places too, lucky you!!!

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