How Quickly They Grow – a Teenaged Penguin in Tierra del Fuego

Young Magellanic penguin on Isla Martillo, Beagle Channel
Young Magellanic penguin on Isla Martillo, Beagle Channel

This is a young Magellanic penguin, or (Spheniscus magellanicus), patiently posing in the stiff winds that pound Isla Martillo, a small island on the Beagle Channel southeast of Ushuaia, Argentina. I wish I had hair like that.

OK, in strict human terms, he’s not really a teenager. But when I crossed paths with him in late January, he was about two months old and already nearly as tall as his parents. The primary thing setting him apart from his elders was that juvenile plumage. It was quite likely gone a few weeks later, making for a nice fit with change, the theme for this week’s WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge.

As I mentioned previously, while this colony is growing gradually each year, Magellanic penguins have been classified as a threatened species, primarily due to oil spills which kill upwards of 20,000 adults and 22,000 juveniles each year. Climate change, which has displaced fish populations thus forcing penguins to swim considerably farther distances for food, is also a factor. In all, 12 of 17 penguin species are experiencing rapid population declines.

A few previous posts about the penguins of Martillo Island, or Isla Yécapasela, are here, here and here.

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