Contribution starting at $2,795
Exported from Streamline App (https://app.streamlineicons.com)
7 days (avg. $399 a day) Includes accommodations, food, and all related research costs
Wildlife & Ecosystems

Trailing Penguins in Patagonia

Location
Chubut, Patagonia, Argentina Map it
Lead Scientist
Activity Level
Moderate
Accommodations
House
Food
Shared meals
Two penguins (C) Chris Linder
An Earthwatch scientist handles a chick (C) Chris Linder
Earthwatch volunteers collect data on a penguin chick (C) Chris Linder
Two penguin chicks in a nest (C) Chris Linder
A volunteer measures a penguin chick's beak (C) Chris Linder
Volunteers take measurements in a penguin rookerie (C) Amy Rougier
Volunteers monitor penguin nests (C) Chris Linder
Two penguins (C) Chris Linder
An Earthwatch scientist handles a chick (C) Chris Linder
Earthwatch volunteers collect data on a penguin chick (C) Chris Linder
Two penguin chicks in a nest (C) Chris Linder
A volunteer measures a penguin chick's beak (C) Chris Linder
Volunteers take measurements in a penguin rookerie (C) Amy Rougier
Volunteers monitor penguin nests (C) Chris Linder

Be among the first people to get a glimpse of what penguins do far out at sea, and learn how this behavior could affect their chicks back on land.


A volunteer carefully holds a fluffy penguin chick

Penguin colonies are a bustling place with adults either disappearing into the ocean to forage for food or returning to feed their chicks. How and where penguins get this food is still unknown, but this foraging behavior is crucial to the species' survival as it can shape the fate of the penguin chicks. Join a team of scientists making cutting-edge use of technology to solve this mystery and gather data that can inform how we work to conserve this beloved bird.

Travel to the rookeries—nesting colonies—on the dramatic rocky shores of Argentina’s Golfo San Jorge to investigate. Spend your days in a national park, getting up close and personal with penguins in a colony with about 9,000 breeding pairs.

While the land within the national park has government protection, most of the waters off its coast don’t—which is why researchers need to document where these charming birds go and what they do out at sea. With that knowledge, they can understand which parts of the ocean most need protection to keep penguin populations strong.

Earthwatch volunteers will help tag penguins and map the location of each nest in the colony. They will also select 50 or so sets of penguin parents to track with sophisticated underwater cameras and GPS devices. Volunteers will help mount these devices, which will capture every move the penguins make. For the first time, researchers will get a detailed picture of how and where this bird population forage and feed their young.

 

A Typical Itinerary

  • Day 1: Arrive in Trelew, Chubut, travel to Camarones
  • Days 2-5: Map penguin colony, monitor penguins, deploy tracking devices, seabird photo-ID
  • Day 6: Fieldwork activities, with farewell dinner
  • Day 7: Departure

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HOW YOU WILL HELP

Spend your days surrounded by penguins as you survey their nests, monitor their chick development and attach tiny devices to them. You will help the researchers:

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Volunteers map penguin colonies and monitor penguin pairs (C) Chris Linder
Map penguin colony and monitor penguin pairs

The first team of the year will help immensely with setting up the project for the season, walking the entire penguin colony, mapping the location of every nest and taking a census of the penguins. You’ll also help the researchers tag penguins. The first team will also help pick about 50 breeding pairs to track throughout the study. The remaining teams will return to these penguins’ nests every day to monitor their behavior and count the number of eggs and hatchlings at each nest.

A baby chick is gently held (C) Earthwatch
Deploy tracking devices

Beginning when penguin chicks are about two weeks old (mid- to late November), teams will help safely attach tracking devices that record the penguins’ every move in the water. They’ll also make sure to get those devices back once penguins return from their foraging trips.

Volunteers identify petrels and enter and analyze data (C) Gabriela Blanco
Enter and analyze data and identify petrels

You’ll help log the critical observational data you collect and learn how to analyze the videos and graphs from the tracking devices. The scientists are also researching another important ocean bird—the giant petrel. You’ll help them sort through the images they’ve collected and help with census from images.

Volunteers who join the October teams will conduct critical surveys of nesting parents before their eggs hatch, providing the scientists with invaluable data on breeding success. Hatchlings start to emerge in early November. All teams will work with and amongst hundreds of adult penguins.

Field conditions and research needs can lead to changes in the itinerary and activities. We appreciate your cooperation and understanding.

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FEEDBACK & QUESTIONS

4 Reviews on this Expedition

If you have been on this expedition, others considering attending would love to hear about your experience.
Julie Thayer | January 2, 2019
I was lucky enough to go on this expedition two years in a row. In 2017, I found so much peace at our seaside homes in Camarones as well working in the colony every day. In 2018, my appreciation only deepened for the penguins and people. Crisscrossing the colony every day to check nests, weigh and measure chicks, and deploy GPS devices teaches you about true field work and gives you so much insight into how the quirky Magellanic Penguins live on land and at sea. You develop an appreciation for the curiosity of some adults and how they cock their heads to look at you. Plus it's just so sweet to experience a tiny, fuzzy chick nuzzling into your lap for shade and protection. There are a hundred other things to make this trip memorable aside from the camaraderie of working together in the field - singing in the van, mate, morning sunrises over the Atlantic, Argentine wine, pleasant conversation over shared meals, star gazing on clear nights, and building friendships to last a lifetime. After a week of working outside in the elements you'll leave exhausted and exhilarated. You'll also leave knowing you really did contribute to Gabi's research, and it is so rewarding. I would go back again without hesitation.
Katrina Tecmire | December 8, 2018
Researching penguins in Patagonia will be a very tough expedition to beat! The knowledge I have gained from this project is immeasurable and the field setting is beautiful. Gabi the co-PI, and her team of marine biologist researchers are welcoming, passionate, FUN, so friendly and incredibly knowledgeable. Their love for what they do and for the penguins is contagious and it was very special to learn from them. I have really enjoyed sharing about the work they are doing with others. The accommodations are comfortable and we were provided with many apartment amenities such as soaps, cleaning materials and breakfast/snack food from the team. Heaters were available and worked efficiently when needed. Hot water was lovely as well! Best part - the Oceanside view! These penguins are amazing, and this work is so important. I highly recommend this project and I would love to go back myself!
Kathleen Savage | December 4, 2018
This was an absolutely amazing expedition. To be able to be able to spend time with the penguins in their colony, work side by side with the research assistants, and to be able to gather data on the baby penguins.

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