Patagonia Penguins: Life Histories

music
ambience: penguin cries and seaside gusts

This time of year, much of the northern hemisphere is blanketed in snow. But December is the height of Summer at Punto Tombo on the coast of Patagonia, near the far tip of South America. Daytime temperatures reach into the 80’s, and strong ocean winds buffet the coast. Above the wind, you can hear the braying of tens of thousands of Magellanic Penguins nested along this stretch of rocky beach. I’m Jim Metzner, and this is the Pulse of the Planet.

“There are just over a million penguins in Patagonia. They’re all Magellanic penguins, and so Punto Tombo has about a quarter of the entire population of Magellanic penguins. All in a very small area – just a few miles of coastline.”

Graham Harris is a veterinarian and field researcher with the Wildlife Conservation Society. Each year, he gathers data on the vast penguin colony situated at a stretch of deserted Patagonian coastline overlooking the southern Atlantic. These penguins spend months at a time away from land – even sleeping on the surface of the ocean. They return here each Spring to refurbish their nests and to raise their chicks.

“There is a certain amount of mystery to them, birds that spend so many months at sea. And yet, they’re birds that are very easy to study on land. If you need to you can actually pick them up and weigh them, figure out how much they are eating, how much they’re giving to their chicks. Just knowing about the life history of these birds and individuals, again, in such huge colonies becomes fascinating.”

We’ll hear more about penguin life in Patagonia in future programs. Pulse of the Planet is presented by the National Science Foundation. I’m Jim Metzner.

music

Patagonia Penguins: Life Histories

Patagonia is home to over one million penguins who spend much of their lives on the surface of the ocean.
Air Date:11/11/2003
Scientist:
Transcript:


music
ambience: penguin cries and seaside gusts

This time of year, much of the northern hemisphere is blanketed in snow. But December is the height of Summer at Punto Tombo on the coast of Patagonia, near the far tip of South America. Daytime temperatures reach into the 80’s, and strong ocean winds buffet the coast. Above the wind, you can hear the braying of tens of thousands of Magellanic Penguins nested along this stretch of rocky beach. I'm Jim Metzner, and this is the Pulse of the Planet.

"There are just over a million penguins in Patagonia. They’re all Magellanic penguins, and so Punto Tombo has about a quarter of the entire population of Magellanic penguins. All in a very small area - just a few miles of coastline."

Graham Harris is a veterinarian and field researcher with the Wildlife Conservation Society. Each year, he gathers data on the vast penguin colony situated at a stretch of deserted Patagonian coastline overlooking the southern Atlantic. These penguins spend months at a time away from land - even sleeping on the surface of the ocean. They return here each Spring to refurbish their nests and to raise their chicks.

"There is a certain amount of mystery to them, birds that spend so many months at sea. And yet, they’re birds that are very easy to study on land. If you need to you can actually pick them up and weigh them, figure out how much they are eating, how much they're giving to their chicks. Just knowing about the life history of these birds and individuals, again, in such huge colonies becomes fascinating."

We’ll hear more about penguin life in Patagonia in future programs. Pulse of the Planet is presented by the National Science Foundation. I'm Jim Metzner.

music