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Marine mammals in Patagonia

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The Commerson's Dolphin

These are marine mammals just like whales, belonging to the cetaceans family but to the odontocetous species, meaning they do have teeth. They are found exclusively in the south hemisphere and especially on the Patagonia coasts. They are distinguished by the contrast of black and white they have on their bodies: head, tail and flippers are black and the rest of the body is white. On their belly there is a black spot that is different according to the sex of the animal: drop-shaped in the males and horseshoe-shaped in the females. Though they look strong built, perhaps for their short snout, they do not weigh more than 50 kilograms and are not larger than 1.5 meters. They are coast dolphins, and they can be seen "surfing" on the seashore waves, or after the trail of some ship. On the Argentine coast they are seen from Golfo San Matías to the coast of Tierra del Fuego.

Scenery and climate

The characteristic of the region is the contrast between the green of the Patagonia plateau, with its tones of brownish green and gray, and the green-blue of the sea seen at the base of the giant cliffs that show the last of the steps of the valley. From there on, beaches of soft sand and gravel slopes get gently into the sea. In the summer months it's very hot during the day, with temperatures rising up to 40º C, but it always gets cool at night, so do not forget to bring a jacket, sweatshirt or sweater for these circumstances. Also remember that the closer we get to the polar circle of Antarctica, the less protected we are by the ozone layer, therefore the harming effects of the sun can be sensed clearly. So it's always better to bring with you, along with your swimsuit, your sunglasses and solar protection. In the winter, temperatures are low, though there's no snow since we are by the ocean, a great climate controller. There is much wind, so you have to bring not only warm clothes according to the season but also a good jacket, appropriate shoes and a cap.

An excursion of sea fauna watching

The watching is done from Puerto Pirámides and there are six companies authorized in the Chubut Province for this. They take the necessary care to avoid producing environmental impact and altering the whales' behavior. The trip starts going along the coast in both directions and then getting one or two miles into the sea, to get in touch with the whales. The first stop is generally at La Lobería (sea lion colony) which is perpendicular to Puerto Pirámides and has got 2000 specimens. The sailing along the coast lets you also watch many cormorant colonies. They build their nests against the cliff and there they breed and raise their babies. You will also see other specimens of the coast bird fauna. Then the ship gets far from the coast, the engine is stopped and for a moment there is plain silence interrupted only by the sounds of penguins, seagulls, gulls and cormorants. It's the moment of waiting… somebody watches a group of birds at the distance. The ship gets closer and suddenly, when the whole group is attentive, something silver and white jumps next to the ship, and the strong sound of a body splashing the sea is heard. It's all excitement then. Everybody shouts, speaks in different languages, the children's joyful cries blend… And to complete this feast some dolphins always show up to jump and play in complete freedom.