Wednesday, March 9, 2016

The Beagle Channel, Ushuaia

Les Eclaireurs lighthouse
The Beagle Channel is a body of water that separates the islands of Tierra del Fuego in Argentina from the Patagonian archipelago in Chile. 

It is an important shipping route as well as being a haven for bird and sea life.

Birds make their homes on the many rocky islets that dot the channel. There are large colonies of blue-eyed cormorants on islets near the town of Ushuaia.
Blue-eyed Cormorant Colony
Around these colonies predators, such as the Pacific Petrel wait for any unfortunate cormorants to stray into their path.
Pacific Petrels making short work of an injured cormorant

Further out in the channel are colonies of South American sealions as well as several species of Albatross.
South American Sealions
Albatross - not sure which flavour
Continuing on through the channel passes the famous Les Eclaireurs lighthouse, built in 1915 after several ships were wrecked in the area.
Les Eclaireurs Lighthouse
Once past the lighthouse the channel opens out and now forms the border between Argentina and Chile. Along the Southern side you can see Navarro Island in Chile and it's tiny capital Puerto Williams.
Puerto Williams from the Argentinian side of the Beagle Channel
Deeper South into the channel is Martillo Island which houses several animal colonies such as Rock Cormorants,
A colony of Rock Cormorants on the cliff
Gentoo and Magellanic Penguins,
Gentoo and Magellanic Penguin colony
And King Penguins - the second-largest species of Penguin.
A pair of King Penguins
The entire trip takes about 3 hours from Ushuaia to Martillo Island and so the return journey was made in the dark and freezing cold...
Returning to the lights of Ushuaia