Contribution starting at $3,850
Exported from Streamline App (
7 days (avg. $550 a day) Includes accommodations, food, and all related research costs
Wildlife & Ecosystems

Trailing Penguins in Patagonia

Camarones, Chubut, Patagonia, Argentina Map it
Lead Scientist
Activity Level
Wilderness Camp/Dorm
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 quite variable and depends on several environmental factors. 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 with monitoring penguin nests through the breeding season, tagging penguins, and mapping the location of each nest in the colony. They will also select 50 or so sets of penguin parents to track with sophisticated underwater behavioral recorders. Volunteers will help in the process of selecting adult penguins to be deployed with these devices, which will capture every move the penguins make. Additionally, volunteers will help researchers 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




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:


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

The first team of the year will help immensely with setting up the project for the season, walking the entire penguin colony, marking and mapping the location of every nest that will be monitored throughout the entire breeding season (approximately 200 nests) . You’ll also help the researchers tag penguins.. The remaining teams will return to these penguins’ nests every day to monitor their development, record lay dates, hatching dates, growth of chicks, etc.

A baby chick is gently held (C) Earthwatch

Beginning when penguin chicks are about 5 days 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

You’ll help log the critical observational data you collect every day at the penguin colony.. 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.



7 Reviews on this Expedition

If you have been on this expedition, others considering attending would love to hear about your experience.
2023 Earthwatch Participant |
  I have done 16 Earthwatch expeditions and enjoyed all of them. Earthwatch expeditions take you to places where you might never go, and you often have the opportunity to meet people who live in the country. Trailing Penguins in Patagonia was one of the best expeditions I have done. The research staff were patient, knowledgeable, helpful, and great fun. One of the researchers cooked an Argentinian dinner for the group on the last night. We also had dinner at a neighbor's house, which was truly a gourmet meal. The staff took us into town twice to buy snacks. The house we stayed in was comfortable and even had a wood-burning fireplace. Besides the penguins, which are adorable (especially the chicks), the staff was the best part of the expedition. The staff made us feel like family. I would do this expedition again.  
2023 Earthwatch Participant |
This expedition far exceeded my expectations! The work was interesting, and the staff were very knowledgeable and happy to answer all of our many, many questions. They were friendly and convivial and saw to it that we had everything we needed. I really fell in love with the place; it’s good to know that there are still places like this where you won’t ever see a ship or airplane, just penguins, guanacos, rhea, and lots and lots of birds. Very inspiring!
Kathryn Scott |
My single favorite moment in this expedition was the sight of a tiny penguin beak poking out the hole it had made in the egg it was hatching from. Our 3-volunteer team arrived just as eggs were starting to hatch, so the fieldwork consisted of locating the study nests, scanning the occupant to see which parent was sitting on the eggs, and counting eggs to see if any egg loss had occurred. If any eggs had hatched, the new chick was weighed and measured to get a baseline for following its growth. When we returned from the field, we digitized the data we had collected and drafted sheets for the next day’s data. There was an impressive wall-sized chart in the room that gave us a hint of the tremendous organization it requires to track nests, parents, eggs, and chicks. This all took place in the magnificent landscape that is Patagonia, so we saw relatively fewer humans and lots and lots of the local wildlife, including guanacos, rhea, armadillos, foxes, and a couple of maras.  Volunteer housing was in a lovely house right on the beach. The kitchen was stocked with different kinds of breakfast foods we could make for ourselves, but local eateries prepared nice lunches and dinners. The project scientists were so informative and friendly that it was hard to say goodbye when our time was up.

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