Wednesday 3 December 2014

On our way to Stanley!

Well our electronic part arrived today and the captain made a surprise announcement that we would head for Port Stanley! But back to the beginning.

The day dawned beautiful with little wind.  I was put on the trip to the Valdez Peninsula to see the Elephant seals and to explain the thick layers of sedimentary rocks that underlie the peninsula. With a group of 16 we were off. What was amazing with the number of Guanacos!  We saw dozens animals in small and larger groups including young. When if first started coming to South American in 1994 we didn't see any guanacos and vicuna were very rare - now they seem to be everywhere. Both species were hunted for both meet and hides - especially the vicuna which as the finest wool of all four of the species.  It is so nice to see the Guanaco thriving is what was part of their original ancestral range.  The other surprise was that among the scrubby brushes were Rheas! These are Darwin's or the Lesser Rhea.  They look just like big ostriches, but more mottled in terms of coloration. We saw two adults with chicks. One set of chicks were about the size of chickens and the other more turkey size.

It took another hour to get to Punta Norte, where about 40 elephant seals lay basking on the the sand. These are pups and juveniles that will leave the beach in a few weeks to begin their lives at sea, deep diving for squid.  A couple of sea lions also made an appearance along the coast along with a couple of great egrets, cormorants and other assorted birds. 

An hour or so into our trip we were called by the ship and told to be back an hour earlier.  This was a bit of a pain as the distance to the point was long, so it meant we basically traveled out to the point had about an hour to view the wildlife and then head back. There were a number of other things to do, but these were cut from the itinerary.  

While I was off to the Peninsula, mom went on a trip to visit the Magallanic penguins at Punto Tambo to the south of Puerto Madryn.  She saw lots of adults and chicks.  

When we got back to the ship, the captain announced the change of plan.  We will land in Stanley (with luck) and then head to Antarctica. Our port day in Ushuaia will be delayed by a day as well as Punta Arenas, and we may not get to Puerto Monte.  Anyway, the passengers seem happy now.

Fossil scallop shell.

Guanacos with salar in the background.

Magallanic penguin seeking shade from a post!

Seabourn Quest docked in Puerto Madryn. 

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