The Penguins of Martillo Island [VIDEO]
I’ve posted before (here, here and here) about my visit to the penguin colony on Martillo Island in Tierra del Fuego, so now I bring you a quick video from that unforgiving, windswept setting on the Beagle Channel that some 3,000 mating pairs of Magellanic penguins (Spheniscus magellanicus) call home. At least for a few months of the year.
I won’t repeat everything about the trip –you can find the details and a 24-photo gallery in this previous post — but to rehash the main points of this must-do excursion if you find yourself in Ushuaia, Argentina, the southernmost city in the world:
When you step off the boat, prepare for one of the most surreal experiences of your life. You’ll find yourself on a rocky shore surrounded by hundreds of oddly cute thigh-high creatures, most of whom are standing relatively still while staring blankly at the violent waves that pound the island’s shore. You don’t necessarily feel unwelcome, but you know in no uncertain terms that you do not belong. And you won’t stay long; visits are limited to 60 minutes.
Although the number on the island is steadily growing, Magellanic Penguins have been classified as a threatened species, primarily due to oil spills which kill upwards of 20,000 adults and 22,000 juveniles off the coast of Argentina each year. Just because we don’t hear about a spill doesn’t mean they don’t occur frequently.
PiraTours (website|Facebook page) is the only company with a concession to bring visitors to the island. Spots fill quickly, particularly during the (southern hemisphere) summer months. Booking in advance is strongly recommended. Two departures daily, 10 a.m. and 2 p.m., two groups of 20 people per departure time. 70 USD/per person.