Peninsula Valdes Wildlife
A short run though of the main species to see
Below we have put together a bit of an overview of the main marine animals and their migration patterns and timings throughout the year...
Southern Right Whale
Start arriving from May and run through until December. To start with, the whales arrive and are very easy to see in the main bay, Gulfo Nuevo right in front of Puerto Madryn and so it is better to look at staying here in June, July and the front end of August. After this they then move round to the other side of the peninsula and are better seen from Puerto Pyramides. From mid-August through until the end of the season then it is better to be located on the peninsula itself.
The males arrive from the beginning of September when they start to make their nests. The colony (especially Punta Tombo) will be at its largest by the middle of November and then will start to moult around the start of January. By the start of April most will have gone. Around the middle of November, it can become chaotic but also very good as, for a couple of weeks, the chicks and the parents are very active.
The seals are located along the shores for a good part of the year. They basically start to arrive along the shores from the start of August. From then on it is a matter of the big males fighting for dominance. This can take a few months but it is generally held that the start of September until the end of October is the best time for watching this and having all the other animals. Come the end of March, there really are no big males left and so the seals that can be seen are generally a lot less active. The pups will be at their most vulnerable around the October to January window and so can increase chance of seeing orcas hunting. Elephant seals are known for spending most of their time out in the oceans feeding on squid. Of the 80% of their life they spend in the water around 95% of this they will also spend under the water, only coming up for air. They have been known to descend down to around 1,500 meters for food and stay down for up to 2 hours at a time.
Are also located along the shores throughout the year. Unlike the seals, sea lions are predominantly land based and so will go out to sea for a few days and then come back to the land to relax. The main season for the pups swimming around is from February until April.
Can bee seen throughout the year although are generally sighted more often at the back end. There are quite a few species on offer including bottle nosed and, further up the coast around Playa Union, the Commerson’s.
The pod of 25 or so that operate year round along the coastline are only the second pod in the world that are understood to hunt by going up the beach. In fact, of the 25, there are only 7 that can achieve the feat. The idea is to gather up a full head of steam and then swim up the beach as fast as possible. The whale will then grab a sleeping seal or sea lion and throw it back over its head to the waiting “pack”. Once this has been achieved the orca will then inch its way back down the beach to join in the fun. While there is no predictability to when they do this, it is a good option to travel in October/November to make the chances better.
There are plenty of both land and water species that live on the peninsula. The main ones being as follows: Guanaco, grey foxes, armadillos, skunks, rheas (a type of ostrich). On top of these land based animals there is also a host of various seabirds that use the Peninsula as a nesting ground.