Along the vast Atlantic Patagonian shoreline several ocean currents mix, and thanks to relatively low shipping traffic and fishing activity the sea is still rich in plankton, seaweed, fish and jellyfish. This fecundity in turn attracts large populations of marine mammals and seabirds, including various species of dolphins, elephant seals, sea lions, Magellanic penguins and orcas. One of the major visitors is the southern right whale, so-called because it was the right one to harpoon in the bad old days of extensive whaling due to the fact it floated once dead and so was easily recoverable. The southern right whale is most easily observed off the Valdes Peninsula from mid-May to early December where they go to breed and give birth to their young.
A spectacular wildlife phenomenon which takes place around March and April at certain spots along the coast is the hunting of sea lions by orcas who take great risks to make a kill, almost beaching themselves by coming close to the beach to snatch young sea lions cavorting in the shallows. This remarkable hunting activity was first featured in the BBC’s documentary Planet Earth in 2006 and can be seen first-hand with Reef & Rainforest.