Present! Puerto Madryn was teeming with Southern Right Whales. By twilight, Friday, we raced to the beach, following crowds to watch them frolic in the bay, determined for a distant glimpse, as no boat could bring us close; the port had been closed for three days. Rumours that the south wind was easing and the port reopening proved true on Saturday so we marvelled at the portentous wonders up-close as they breached and spouted. On Sunday the port had reclosed but we didn’t mind as we sat in the beachfront cafe and watched them play in the bay. Call me Ishmael!
News of the penguins was as eagerly anticipated as a soap opera cliff-hanger, with guides, newspapers and radio broadcasts wondering where the penguins were. Punto Tombo is normally the home of half a million Magellanic penguins in September; we were grateful for the single sighting of a solitary water-bound loner. Gaston, our hostel proprietor and amateur meteorologist referenced the moon cycles and water tides as explanation but why they hadn’t arrived is anyone’s guess.
Messaged but absent. No news yet.
I am not an animal-lover but those whales were special. Magical. Now I know why Michael Joe, back in the eighties, gave all the family matching `Stop the Bloody Whaling’ t-shirts for Christmas. Thank God he did. The population of Southern Right Whales is growing but their northern cousins were hunted to near extinction and are the most endangered of all whales.