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Magdalena Island Penguins, in March

Just offshore from Punta Arenas lies a tiny sliver of an island, with a lighthouse at the top.  There is nothing else on the island from April until October, unless you count the tens of thousands of burrows or holes dotting the landscape.  But from November to March, this tiny island becomes home to an amazing number of Magellanic Penguins.  These are not the smallest penguins in the world, by any means, but not quite the as large as their relatives down in Antarctica, either.  They come here to breed in the Austral summer, and it is quite a sight to behold seeing literally tens of thousands of penguins so closely huddled together. 



As the season progresses, and young penguins begin to grow up - or chicks fail due to malnourishment or predation - the numbers of penguins begin to decrease.  By late March – when we arrived – there were no chicks left, and only about two-, maybe three-thousand adults remaining.  There were groups of 20-30 penguins huddling at the waters edge, stepping gingerly into the water and looking at each other as if to say “Really?  We really want to leave?  But it's been so comfy here.”  In only a few weeks time, the island would be empty again, save for the lighthouse.


 
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