Marine Life of Patagonia | Patagonia Unbound

Marine Life of Patagonia

Southern Right Whale

Southern Right Whale 

Approximately 10,000 southern right whales are found spread throughout the southern part of the Southern Hemisphere including off the coasts of Patagonia. The southern right whale is a baleen whale, distinguished by the callosities on its head, a broad back without a dorsal fin, and a long arching mouth that begins above the eye. Its skin is very dark grey or black, occasionally with some white patches on the belly. The right whale's callosities appear white due to large colonies of cyamids or whale lice.

A southern right female can measure 49 ft and weigh up to 52 tons. This makes them slightly smaller than other whales that dwell in the Northern Hemisphere.

The southern right whale is rather active on the water surface, and curious towards human vessels. This can make for some great opportunities for surface sightings. A behavior that is unique to the southern right whale is called sailing. This is when a right uses their elevated flukes to catch the wind. This allows them to remain in the same position for a long period of time. It appears to be a form of play and is most commonly seen off the coast of Argentina.

Right whales are often seen interacting with other humpback whales and dolphins. There is a record of a southern right and a humpback thought to be involved in mating activities off Mozambique.

The southern right whale has very strong maternal connections with locations and the gene pools they were born in. They are known to return to their birth spots at three year intervals. This species has also been known to nurse unrelated orphans on occasion.

Orca

ORCA WHALE 

The orca whale, also known as the killer whale, is a toothed whale belonging to the dolphin family and claiming the top spot of largest member.

The orca has a diverse diet, although individual populations often specialize in certain types of prey. Some feed exclusively on fish, while others hunt marine mammals like pinnipeds, and even large whales. Orcas have been known to attack baleen whale calves.

Killer whales are a social animal. Some populations are composed of matrilineal family groups which are the most stable of any animal species. Their sophisticated hunting techniques and vocal behaviours, which are often specific to a particular group and passed across generations, have been anthropomorphically described as manifestations of culture.

Wild orcas are not considered a threat to human beings, but there have been cases of captive orcas killing or injuring their handlers at marine theme parks.

Elephant Seal

ELEPHANT SEALS 

Elephant seals are large, oceangoing earless seals. It was thought that the elephant seal was hunted to the brink of extinction by the end of the 19th century, but numbers have since recovered.

The southern elephant seal is found in the Valdes Peninsula off the coast of Argentina. This is the fourth largest elephant seal colony in the world.

Elephant seals breed annually and seem to be faithful to colonies that have established breeding areas.