In 2005, a young male Magellanic penguin was confronted by a larger male, who had just returned from his migration trip. This brute challenged our young protagonist to a duel over a nesting site, and after a long and well-fought battle, the young male was defeated. Bloody and homeless, he spent days standing in the middle of the tourist trail where he had no shade, no cover, and no nest. On his fourth day without a nest and none available to claim as his own without a fight, he discovered the Center’s vehicle: a magnificent, large Ford Turbo pick-up truck. This truck had plenty of shade, and the young male could rest when he wanted, see what other penguins were doing, and watch the Center’s volunteers as they left and returned from their research in the field. The truck became his home and we named him Turbo.
Several months after he had claimed the truck, we wanted to be sure that only Turbo was using the truck so we took his weight and measurements and gave him a numbered band (#53080). He was a young male, probably 2 to 3 years of age, and in good body condition. His band allowed us to distinguish him from all other penguins. While we observed other penguins going under the truck, Turbo owned most of the space underneath, forcing the other penguins to stick to the edges. On days we drove to town we hated to leave him without his “nest”. When we returned, we’d see him standing in the open or wandering around the bushes. Sometimes even before the groceries were unloaded Turbo would bend down and cluck as he settled in under the truck. In 2007, Turbo found himself a nest under a bush nearby and moved away from the truck. He will still greet us at the start of our day and sometimes follow us into the field. When he sees us in the colony or on the beach he goes out of his way to come over and greet us. We adore his affection for humans but hope that someday he will find a mate and have chicks. For now, he maintains his bachelor status.
Turbo has developed quite a following among the project and we are excited to share updates during our time at Punta Tombo. Follow us on social media to stay informed about Turbo and see pictures throughout the season.