We chatted with one of the friendly (lonely?) rangers and he told us that all the action in the penguin colony was at sunset and at sunrise. We lucked out the first night and showed up when all the little guys were coming home from work and were making a big commotion.
So, we decided to come back at sunrise and see if the kerfuffle was any different.
It was – they were all pointed the other direction. At sunrise, all the penguin dads put on their suit and head off to work. They get on a penguin highway from their little hole all cruise the way to the sea. They hop in, flop around and get everything good and wet, then take off like a pack of porpoises. Jumping and diving in and out of the water as they head out to sea. You can see them splashing and sailing in a line all the way out to the horizon.
The ladies stay at home and take care of the nest. This doesn’t seem to entail much. This time of year, the adults are molting, so there is lots of preening and plucking. Later in the day, they start their unique family call (think donkey) so their mate knows where they are. When they get home, they trade places and the other goes out to fish for the afternoon.
At this time of year, the kids have already taken off. The newborns leave around February (at 4 months old) and head to Brazil by themselves. Mom and dad leave for warmer waters about now, so this is the end of the season here. Still, there are 9000 little pinguinos here to enjoy.