The Punta Tombo reserve in Patagonia is home to the world's largest colony of Magellanic penguins. Spending much of their lives in the water, these penguins return yearly to the Patagonian coast to court, breed, and raise their young.
Approximately half of the colony of penguins that nest at Punta Tombo burrow underground. Males arrive prior to the females, preparing and settling into their old nests. When the females arrive, they search out their lifelong mate through a series of calls and a chorus of answers. After an elaborate courtship, the female will lay one egg, and both male and female will share the two month incubation. Once the baby penguin, or chick, hatches, the parents will forage for food, feeding the chick by regurgitation until it can fend for itself. After the chicks learn to swim, the family will return to the ocean and migrate north to southern Brazil.
the immature penguins return to Punta Tombo the following
year, they will molt their feathers, and breeding will
once again resume.
Humans are largely to blame for the population drop. Depletion of
fishing stocks that the penguins feed
on accounts for part of the decline, and there is
currently no policy that keeps overfishing in check. Oil
slicks also contribute to the mounting number of penguin
deaths, and safety standards are still seriously flawed.
Working toward the same goal, the Wildlife Conservation Society is dedicated to wildlife conservation, and in 1982 established the Magellanic Penguin Project. Project director Dee Boersma and her team study and monitor the penguin population, keep tourism in check, and train others about conservation efforts to sustain the penguins and other wildlife of Argentina.
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