Friday, January 18, 2008

UNESCO Heritage site: Peninsula Valdez, Day 4

The flora of Peninsula Valdez resemble the W. Texas landscape, but the fauna are very different. As we drove, we spotted the above guanaco: llamalike creatures, lesser Rhea: grey mini-ostrich, mara: a large harelike rodent, a burrowing owl, petrels, oystercatchers, cormorants. When we reached Caleta Valdez, we were at the largest colony in the world of southern elephant seals. It was molting season, so they weren't very active, and we didn't see many mature males w. their elephantine trunk probosces. It was hypnotic to watch the young males emerge from the sea so very slowly dragging their huge bodies over the sand, to join, after much roaring and yawning, a group dozing on the beach. We climbed a nearby promontory to see a small group of Magellanic penguins marching on a stony beach.
We also visited Punta Pyramides to view southern sea lions. The males are worthy of the name as they have a mane. They lazed on the rocks in a small cove surrounded by sandstone cliffs, a magnificent setting.

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