Sea Lions, Whales, Elephant Seals, Peguins

Trip Start Jan 23, 2007
Trip End Feb 23, 2008

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Flag of Argentina  ,
Monday, October 8, 2007

After 28 hours on a bus from Buenos Aires... some awful sleeping positions...something green in the lasagna...many different lanes, people, stops and way too much impatient expectations, we finally arrived at Puerto Madryn and to the coast; the best part was the BLUE water (compared to the brown river in Buenos Aires we use to see each day)!!! The town was small but easy to navigate because every town has the exact same street names in the entire country!!! I would compare it to Milwaukee... same street names as Chicago... it just makes traveling easy!

We spoke with the hostel about excursions they had to offer and all the full day excursion had already left by the time we arrived (poor planning). So we decided to go to Punta Loma to see the Sea Lions...well we thought that we were going to see Walruses, but apparently translations were off cause walruses are not sea lions or sea wolves in Spanish (Lobos marinos). We were amazed by 1) the smell and 2) the "noises" they make to each other in the form of communication, something you definitely don't hear when they're in captivity, but you could hear it if Mr. Puhr (Bruce), Mr. Skala (Dave), Dr. Kirscher (Denis), Mr. Leffring (Harv-ster), and Dan got together and drank a lot of beer. (Please watch the movie) We got there right before the tide came in so there was a lot going on... males burping at females, some playing the water and some trying to be "Mr. Machista" to a group of younger males who definitely thought that they were "Mr. Machista"... really to sum it all up it was like an 8th grade playground but a little more....compelled by an R rated feeling. It was pretty cool... of course we didn't have the camera ready to capture that fight... but that's okay!!

We returned to the hostel for lunch and then rented bikes to go out to El Doridillo, a beach that on a map looks really close and is great to watch the whales come in during the high tide. The bike ride was a little bit more of a hike than we had anticipated... Sarah was a bit tired and crabby from the bus ride and wasn't to happy with the amount of physical excursion the bike ride required of her... especially when she shifted into the wrong gear while going up hill... after that she started to walk the bike up hill. So there's another movie about this... and there is no explanation for Dan's behavior... I guess I was just in the moment because seriously I sound like an idiot during the video... and this is an interesting representation of the trip cause I am catching up to Sarah in the video which took some timing and a couple of takes, and still I sound like an idiot... in the end we had a blast and the bike ride was beautiful.

We spent some time at the beach for "resting" and Sarah did very well coming back. But boy did I wish I had her shifting into the wrong gear on camera b/c it was hilarious!!! Really I thought I was filming when she oh so gently fell off the bike as she up shifted and the hill was too steep.... Then Sarah's clean mouth expressed how she really was priceless.

After that we called it a day... and made what has now become our dinner (ham and cheese our lunch) some spaghetti and hit the sack. Day 2 was full of mammal watching. We started out with the Southern Right Whales... they didn't do any jumps for us but we got pretty darn close. Extremely big!!! Sometimes they did they're own "people watching" where the whales were more interested in us than we were in them. So in total there are about 10,000 Southern Right Whales and the largest population come here to Argentina. They spend months prior feeding in Antarctica and then return to Puerto Madryn to mate, have babies, or for the males copulate (if you don't know what the means...don't worry you will one day). The whales rotate on a 3 year basis, so one year the female gets pregnant and then come back a year later to give birth in Puerto Madryn. Finally the Mothers travel with their calves for 2 years and then return to Puerto Madryn to separate. There are always whales there each year between august and December but they are on their own cycle and over all they have identified 2000 individual whales in Puerto Madryn and they track their activity.

So lucky for us we got to see a mother and her calf play with our boat for a while and later we got to see a little "Mina-gee-taw" between to male whales trying to force an encounter with a Female... not to be graphic, but when she decides that she is not "open for business" the female swims upside down keeping herself away from the males. So the males work together to flip her right side up as one male swim below up side down... anyways it's the chase that is the most interesting!!!

After the whales we had lunch and saw some elephant seals. They are one large species...we mean really lazy, lay on the beach, FAT; but also very amusing to watch move (see video)! We also got to see some penguins which reminded me of Vegas... unfortunately I didn't get as close as I did in Vegas, but it was nice!

After some long discussion and some inspiration from our new friend Dafna we decided that we had seen and done all we could do in puerto madryn so we left a night early and headed to bariloche a day early... the best decision ever!!! We're here in bariloche till Tuesday!!!
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