Penguins in Ushuaia

Penguins in Ushuaia

When you visit the End of the World, a highly recommended activity is to visit the fascinating penguin colonies. Tierra del Fuego boasts three distinct species of penguins: the Magellanic, the Gentoo, and the King Penguin.

The Magellanic penguin is characterized by its predominantly black feathers with striking white stripes around its head and wings. On the other hand, Gentoo penguins have a distinct black and white pattern with bright orange beaks and feet. The King penguin, which shares the sleek grey and yellow appearance of the Emperor penguin, is slightly smaller in size. All three species migrate to Tierra del Fuego to breed, with the breeding season commencing in early October during the spring and summer months. The young penguins can be spotted from summer through February, which also happens to be the best time to book a Patagonia trip due to favorable weather conditions in the region.

In addition to visiting the penguin colonies, there are plenty of other exciting activities to do in Ushuaia and its surrounding areas. Some options include trekking through Tierra del Fuego National Park, taking a boat tour of the Beagle Channel, or exploring the stunning glaciers of the region.

Overall, a visit to Tierra del Fuego and its penguin colonies promises to be an unforgettable experience that showcases the unique and diverse wildlife found in the Southern Hemisphere.

Beagle Channel Map

 

Penguins in the Beagle Channel

The Beagle Channel, located at the southern tip of South America, is home to several species of penguins, making it a popular destination for wildlife enthusiasts. The two most common species found in the area are the Magellanic and Gentoo penguins.

Magellanic penguins, as mentioned earlier, have striking black and white markings and are about 70 cm tall. They are known for their burrowing habits, making their homes in holes in the ground or caves along the coast. In the Beagle Channel, they can be spotted on several islands, including Isla Martillo and Isla Yécapasela.

Gentoo penguins, on the other hand, have a more distinct appearance with their bright orange beaks and feet. They are slightly larger than Magellanic penguins, standing at around 75 cm tall. Gentoo penguins are known for their communal nesting habits, often building nests with other penguins in the same colony. In the Beagle Channel, Gentoo penguins can be seen on Isla Martillo and Isla Navarino.

Visitors can observe these fascinating creatures up close by taking guided tours or boat trips to the islands. These tours often include a stop on one or more of the islands where visitors can observe the penguins in their natural habitat. Additionally, some tours may offer the opportunity to walk among the penguins, although it is important to follow the rules and regulations to avoid disturbing the penguins’ breeding and nesting activities.

 

Magellanic Penguins

Magellanic penguins (Spheniscus magellanicus) are a species of penguins that are native to the coasts of South America, including Argentina, Chile, and the Falkland Islands. They are named after the famous explorer Ferdinand Magellan, who first recorded their sightings during his historic voyage around the world in 1520.

Magellanic penguins are medium-sized penguins, growing up to 70 cm (27.6 inches) tall and weighing up to 5.5 kg (12.1 lbs). They have a distinctive black and white plumage, with a black head and back, white chest and belly, and two black bands across their chest. They also have a distinctive pink patch of skin around their eyes.

These penguins are known for their burrowing habits, as they typically dig burrows into the ground or use natural crevices to create their nests. They lay two eggs per breeding season, and both parents take turns incubating the eggs and caring for the chicks. Magellanic penguins feed mainly on fish, squid, and krill, and they can dive to depths of up to 60 meters (197 feet) to catch their prey.

Magellanic penguins are listed as “near threatened” by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) due to threats such as oil spills, overfishing, and habitat loss. However, they are also one of the most common penguin species in the world, with an estimated population of over 1.3 million individuals. They are a popular sightseeing attraction in areas such as the Falkland Islands and Tierra del Fuego, where visitors can observe their behavior and learn more about their unique adaptations and behaviors.

Magellanic Penguin

 

Gentoo Penguins

Gentoo penguins (Pygoscelis papua) are a species of penguin that are found in various locations throughout the Southern Ocean, including the Falkland Islands, South Georgia, and the Antarctic Peninsula. They are the third-largest penguin species, growing up to 76 cm (30 inches) tall and weighing up to 6.5 kg (14.3 lbs).

Gentoo penguins have a distinct black and white plumage with a white strip across the top of their head and a bright orange-red bill and feet. They also have long, narrow tails and a white patch above each eye. These penguins are known for their loud, trumpeting calls and their energetic and curious personalities.

Gentoo penguins are colonial breeders, with breeding colonies ranging in size from a few pairs to several thousand pairs. They build nests out of stones and pebbles, and they lay two eggs per breeding season. Both parents take turns incubating the eggs and caring for the chicks.

Gentoo penguins feed mainly on fish, krill, and squid, and they can dive to depths of up to 200 meters (656 feet) to catch their prey. They are also known for their speed, as they can swim at speeds of up to 36 km/h (22 mph).

Like many penguin species, Gentoo penguins are threatened by habitat loss, overfishing, and climate change. However, they are currently listed as “least concern” by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), with an estimated population of around 300,000 individuals. Gentoo penguins are a popular sightseeing attraction in areas such as the Falkland Islands, South Georgia, and the Antarctic Peninsula, where visitors can observe their behavior and learn more about their unique adaptations and behaviors.

 

Gentoo Penguins and Magellanic Penguins: Characteristics and comparison

Check some important facts about two species of penguins you can find in Ushuaia: The Gentoo and the Magellanic Penguins. 

gentoo and magellan penguins in the Beagle Channel, Ushuaia

Picture of Ramiro Rodriguez

Ramiro Rodriguez

25 years working in travel market, as Sales & Marketing Manager in RipioTurismo, Marketing Manager in Nuevas Ideas Travel Consulting Group. Writer and travel lover.

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