Diving downwind in the gale, a Cape or Pintado Petrel, Daption capense dashes past our boat off the coast of Valparaiso, Chile. One of the southern Fulmarine Petrels and many seabirds that can be spotted in pelagic trips off Chile, they migrate along the Chilean coast en route to their breeding grounds in the South Shetlands and the rocky coast of the Antarctic Peninsula, where they nest in ledges in unaccessible cliffs.
Last week we were incredibly lucky to get a most unexpected and distinguished visitor to the shores of Punta Arenas on the Straits of Magellan, as a vagrant adult Emperor Penguin, Aptenodytes forsteri came ashore to the astonishment and delight of those who saw it. It is only the second documented occurrence of this strictly Antarctic and largest of all penguins for Chile, and the first record since 1978, almost 40 years ago. It is also the first adult Emperor documented for the country, since the 1978 specimen was a juvenile bird.
It was checked for any health issues and observed for a few days in a local wildlife rehab center before being released in the Straits of Magellan in the proximities of its Eastern (Atlantic) mouth, from where it will probably make its voyage back to Antarctica…truly an Imperial event..!!!
Resting on the waters of a calm Reloncaví Sound, A Pincoya Storm Petrel, Oceanites pincoyae presents us with a close range view, showing its diagnostic white coverts. Endemic to the waters around Chiloé Island and Reloncaví Sound, it was described only in 2013 as a new species for science.
Resting on the waters of a calm Reloncaví Sound in Chile’s Lake District, A Pincoya Storm Petrel, Oceanites pincoyae presents us with a close range view, showing its diagnostic white coverts. Endemic to the waters around Chiloé Island and Reloncaví Sound, it was described only in 2013 as a new species for science.
If you feel like finding out more on this “new” seabird, check out our article here.
Sitting low above the water, a Magellanic Cormorant Phalacrocorax magellanicus surfaces while feeding in the cold waters of the Straits of Magellan, closely followed by an Imperial Cormorant Phalacrocorax atriceps. The two southernmost cormorants in the Americas, they are found along both Pacific and Atlantic coasts of Patagonia.
Gyrating with majestic ease over the waves of the Drake Passage between Cape Horn and Antarctica, an adult Southern Royal Albatross Diomedea epomophora glides past our ship during the crossing of this stormy seaway. Largest of albatrosses, with a wingspan of more than 3.5m it is also the longest-winged bird in the planet.
Projecting its open webbed feet in the air, a Murphy’s Petrel Pterodroma murphyi prepares to land near a potential nest site in the extint Rano Kau volcano, Easter Island, in the South Eastern Pacific. A pelagic gadfly petrel, it nests in only a few island groups in Polynesia.
Taking off after feeding in the surface a Southern Fulmar, Fulmarus glacialoides taxies vigorously to become airborne in the cold and rich waters of the Humboldt Current in the South-eastern Pacific off Valparaiso in Central Chile. The sole member of genus Fulmarus in the Southern Hemisphere, it is identified by its silvery-grey plumage colour and pink bill with a blue nose tube and black tip, and after breeding in and around Antarctica it disperses across the southern oceans looking for highly productive cold marine currents where it feeds mostly on pelagic invertebrates.
Showing their typical round forehead and scarred pale-grey bodies, a small pod of Risso’s Dolphin, Grampus griseus breaches close to our boat during one of our pelagics off Valparaiso in the Pacific, Central Chile. This curious dolphin is one of several cetaceans that regularly show up on such offshore excursions.
Like a silvery arrow, an adult Red-tailed Tropicbird, Phaethon rubricauda flies by the nesting ledges in the slopes of volcano Rano Raraku, Easter Island in the middle of the Pacific.
Tropicbirds, an order, family and genus of only three tropical and subtropical pelagic seabirds all have very long central tail feathers.
The Salvin’s Albatross is an albatross species, belonging to the medium-sized or ‘mollymawk’ group, that breeds in sub-Antarctic islands off New Zealand, especifically in the Snares and the Bounty Islands. It is estimated that the total population of this albatross might reach 380,000 individuals. During the non-breeding season, a large part of the population disperse eastward through the South Pacific to South America, being one of the most common albatross species in Chilean waters. This picture was taken last March during a pelagic trip off Valparaiso, central Chile.