The world of silence: the Peninsula Valdés - The Traveller


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Wednesday, August 10, 2011

The world of silence: the Peninsula Valdés

We go to Patagonia in the Argentine coast. When we arrived in late November, a few dozen whales lying still in the Bay of Peninsula Valdes. In September-October, the inventory up to several hundred. Here they came cooing last spring, they come here to give birth after a year. They will stay there six months, the time for the little calf (3 tons to almost 5 feet long at birth) to harden to face the journey south. They are "southern right whales," and nicknamed for being particularly gracious. Despite their small thirty tons, they have no teeth and feed exclusively on plankton and krill a few centimeters. So innocuous, even innocent, the whalers had to get close to pick. It is now a protected species, the tourist boats have replaced fishing boats, and continue to book them the same warm welcome: somersaults, pear, back flips and reverence of the tail ... a breathtaking spectacle. Overwhelmed by the acrobats of several tons, we offer a tour at dusk, in small groups ... the little white zodiac flirts with the whales, we are speechless when they slip silently under our walnut shell, or leave his head slowly, gigantic, two or three meters from our boat ... Observing whom?

Although whales are the stars, there are many other sights to Valdés, including one of the few colonies of elephant seals in the southern hemisphere. In late November, the breeding season is already a memory, males and females have spun snore belly up on the sand ... They can be found particularly amorphous, but it must do them justice. They arrive at Valdés in September to give birth to a baby weighing 30 kg, which is 3.5 kg of fat per day during lactation. After one month, the small is autonomous, and the mother can happily return ... one of the "harem" and be again impregnated by a male brushing the 3-ton, before returning to sea to recuperate .. . On the peninsula, elephants alongside sea lions, their cousins ​​weight category "feather" (ten times lighter). Rather ignorant on the subject, we approach guided tours to learn how to differentiate them. In reality, they are not cousins ​​at all: the sea lions that waddle on their front legs are sea lions and elephant seals that crawl on his belly, seals! It notes ...

We must unfortunately leave the peninsula. Driven by a hunch and a typically feminine obstinacy, I insist once more to return to the Caleta Valdés. The argument is small (no less!), But we still have the 80 km track ... and there, in a bend, what do we get out of the lake ... the killer! Well, I do not dream since my early youth, but be aware that for a traveler to Valdes, the orcas, the Grail is a little ... Taking advantage of the tide, they sometimes throw on the beaches of the steep Caleta to catch small sea lions, and the show is as rare as it is fascinating! We will not assault, but two black and white silhouettes gliding silently a few meters of sea lions languid ... We still shudder!

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