Patagonian Southwest Atlantic

About the Area

The waters of the Patagonian-Southwest Atlantic are very cold and turbulent because of strong currents from Antarctica, but waters remain calm and somewhat warmer in lagoons and gulfs.

This area provides important breeding habitat for marine seabirds and mammals along the East Coast of Argentina.

Peninsula Valdés, a well-known international tourist destination, harbours the only continental breeding colony of Southern elephant seals (Mirounga leonina) and provides breeding and calving grounds for Southern right whales (Eubalaena australis).

Local Species
Early this century, fur seals and sea lions (Family, Otariidae) were heavily exploited for their fur and oil, resulting in a dramatic decline of local populations, especially of fur seals. This ecoregion supports a very important fishery, especially for Hake (Merluccius hubbsi), Common squid (Loligo spp.), and Shortfin squid (Illex argentinus).

Among the numerous mammal species found here are Southern sea lion (Otaria byronia), Southern elephant seal (Mirounga leonina), South American fur seal (Arctocephalus australis), Southern right whale (Eubalaena australis), Humpback whale (Megaperta novaengliae), and Commerson's dolphin (Cephalorhynchus commersonii).

Marine birds include the Magellanic penguin (Spheniscus magellanicus), Imperial cormorant (Phalacrocorax atriceps), and the pale-faced sheathbill (Chionis alba).

Threats
Fisheries in the Southwest Atlantic have dramatically decreased in the last decade, due to increased fishing activities and bycatch with the management and control of fisheries linked more to political interests than to proper technical management of the marine resources.

The Patagonian region supports intense oil activities and ecosystems have suffered from major oil spills as well as release of contaminated ballast water, particularly affecting species such as penguins during their migratory movements along the coast.

In the vicinity of cities, sewage, industrial and harbour pollution are other causes for concern. Tourism is increasing in this area and with almost no coastal development or management plan in place, it could pose a threat to local wildlife, particularly to southern right whales during their breeding and calving activities.

Resources

Size:
N/A

Habitat type:
Temperate Shelf and Seas

Geographic Location:
Northwestern Pacific Ocean

Conservation Status:
Relatively Stable/Intact

Quiz Time!

Where is the largest breeding colony of Magellanic penguins found?

Answer:
Punta Tombo represents the largest breeding colony of Magellanic penguins, containing approximately 1,000,000 individuals.

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