The Magellanic Penguin Project at Punta Tombo, Argentina began in 1982 because a company intended to harvest Magellanic penguins and turn them into golf gloves, meat and oil. The Wildlife Conservation Society and the Office of Tourism for the Province of Chubut, Argentina entered into a joint agreement to protect the penguin colony and study the diversity of wildlife at Punta Tombo. At the start of the project, Punta Tombo was the largest Magellanic penguin colony in the world, but has decreased by ~40% since 1987.
The project provides recommendations to the Province to enhance protection of the penguins, educates tourists on conservation, and helps improve the experience of the Provincial Reserve’s more than 100,000 annual visitors.
Each season, volunteers arrive to Punta Tombo before the arrival of penguins after winter migration. Nest checks begin immediately to document the arrival of males, their mates, and eggs after copulation. We follow specific nests identified by colorful flagging. As hatching dates approach, we conduct daily nest checks to record the exact date of hatching. Finally, we record the day chicks fledge and head to sea. Throughout the breeding season, we mark birds with flipper bands, small mouse ear tags, radio frequency ID tags, and some receive satellite tags. Satellite tracks provide us with foraging patterns at different stages of the breeding cycle. Visit our Magellanic VIP Program page to learn more about satellite tags and our VIP birds.
After an intensive field season the crew departs mid-February and begins creating post-season reports, writing publications, and preparing for the next season.
Storms flood nests, collapse burrows, and increase the incidence of hypothermia in small chicks.