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Colony Of 1 Million Penguins Flock To Argentina To Feast On Fish

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It was a rare sight to behold.

Lured in by the unusual abundance of small fish, a colony of more than a million Magellanic penguins flocked to the Argentine peninsula before migrating elsewhere.

A Gathering of Penguins

Officials in Argentina say the penguins' gathering at the Punta Tombo peninsula, which occurred during breeding season, is the highest record in recent years.

This spectacular crowd of Magellanic penguins will be a sight for the tens of thousands of tourists who visit the reserve every year, the Independent reported.

Officials say the Punta Tombo peninsula is an ideal nesting grounds for penguins. In the past few days, the waters of Punta Tombo has been teeming with sardines, anchovies, other small fish, and smaller crustaceans that settled near the shoreline.

Magellanic penguins have a distinct broad crescent of white feathers extending above each eye to the chin, and a tiny blemish of pink on the face. These penguins, which are at least 50 centimeters (20 inches) tall, are accustomed to warm weather and often breed in large colonies in Chile and southern Argentina.

During March to September, these animals move as far as Brazil. They come ashore in September or October when male penguins and female penguins take turns looking after their eggs and searching for food. These penguin families live under the shelter of bushes or create their own burrows, but they walk across the shore to find food.

Not Endangered But Threatened

Magellanic penguins are not on the list of endangered species, as evidenced by the million penguins that gathered at the peninsula.

However, officials noted that populations of penguins were once gutted in the Falkland Islands because of commercial fishing. What's more, these birds are threatened by the impacts of climate change, the decline of fish populations, and oil spills, which kill about 40,000 of these animals every year.

Combined with these, Magellanic penguins are on the Red List of Threatened Species of the International Union for Conservation of Nature, filed under the category of "near-threatened."

In 2014, terrible weather conditions in Argentina almost wiped out thousands of baby penguins.

Scientists who conducted a 28-year research on Magellanic penguins found that frequent bouts of intensely warm weather and rainy weather have put 50 percent of baby penguins in the region in danger of death.

"Penguin [chicks] don't do well when they get wet," said Dee Boersma, co-author of this past study and a researcher from University of Washington.

Meanwhile, officials say things appear positive for Magellanic penguins on the peninsula, which will soon begin their migration.

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