Sunday, July 8, 2012

Frightening visions

Acknowledgement to The Sydney Morning Herald  eco-tourism - rituals of the whales

Argentina's Peninsula Valdes is renowned as one of the world's finest whale-watching destinations. But outside the whale-watching season, an even grander ocean spectacle takes place around this pimple of barren land, midway between Buenos Aires and the southern tip of South America. As South American sea lions give birth along the peninsula's coast each February, pods of orcas arrive offshore, poised for one of nature's most dramatic hunting rituals. Riding waves onto the beach at Peninsula Valdes' northern tip, the orcas beach themselves to snatch at sea lion pups, dragging them out to sea, often in full view of gathered spectators.

Dirt roads circle the World Heritage-listed peninsula, and I head first to Punta Delgada. The hour-long drive is like a journey to the edge of the world. Past the white sheen of Salina Grande, a salt lake 40 metres below sea level, the scrub withers into grasslands. Fading signs for estancias blend into the colourless landscape, and a gaucho on horseback trots across the road, customary beret at its customary tilt on his head.
On approach ... an orca prepares to make a kill. Photo: Getty Images

Animal kingdom... an orca beaches itself for a kill. Photo: Getty Images

Risky strategy ... if the orca misjudges its timing, it can beach itself. Photo: Getty Images

No comments: