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Bahía Blanca and Valdés Peninsula, Argentina – August 21st, 2009

40.8S 62.9W

August 21st, 2009 Category: Image of the day

Argentina - July 28th, 2009

Argentina - July 28th, 2009

Bahía Blanca

Bahía Blanca

Valdes Peninsula

Valdes Peninsula

Sediments line the eastern shores of the Argentina provinces of Buenos Aires, Río Negro and Chubut (from top to bottom).

These sediments appear most dense in Bahía Blanca (meaning White Bay, although it is actually an estuary), as can be seen in the close-up.

The other close-up focuses on the Valdes Peninsula (called Península Valdés in Spanish) in the north east of Chubut Province, Argentina.

With a surface area of about 3,625 km², most of the peninsula is barren land with some salt lakes. The largest of these lakes is at an elevation of about 40 m below sea level.

The peninsula is an important nature reserve which was listed as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1999. The coastline is inhabited by marine mammals, like sea lions, elephant seals and fur seals. Southern right whales can be found in Golfo Nuevo (below) and Golfo San José (above), protected bodies of water located between the peninsula and the Patagonian mainland.

These baleen whales come here between May and December, for mating and giving birth, because the water in the gulf is quieter and warmer than in the open sea. Orcas can be found off the coast, in the open sea off the peninsula. In this area, they are known to beach themselves on shore to capture sea lions and elephant seals.

The inner part of the peninsula is inhabited by rheas, guanacos and maras. A high diversity and range of birds live in the peninsula as well; at least 181 bird species, 66 of which are migratory, live in the area, including the Antarctic Pigeon.

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