Leo Campagna and I are finishing up our trip to Patagonia, where we are setting up logistics for our forthcoming field course and generally having a great time with both wildlife and Leo’s friends and family here in his home town of Puerto Madryn. Right whales, elephant seals, guanacos, grisson, sheathbills, penguins, giant petrels, black-browed albatross, Olrog’s gull, Chabut steamer-ducks, and more; fossils everywhere; and more carne asada than can possibly be eaten by our small group (though we managed…!).
The animals in the photo (all of them) are all bloated from eating a lot. The ones lying on the sand are ‘weaner’ elephant seals–the mothers come on shore to give birth (and mate), lactate for a few weeks while their single pup grows by 15 kg a day, then the moms go back to sea while their blubbery offspring lie around on the beach for another couple of months slowly converting all of that fat into a more developed seal. These smaller guys will all be gone when we are back here in January, but the adults will have returned to the beach to molt.