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Nunes said it is possible that the cold waters, brought on by a regional cold front, made the fish that the penguins eat seek other waters.
It's normal for Magellan penguins to leave their colonies in the Antarctic in an annual migration in search of fish, following the plankton-rich, frigid water currents traveling north along the coast of South America. What has changed is that they are increasingly unable to return home because they get sick, weak or disoriented for reasons that have yet to be determined.
The Magellanic Penguin belongs to the Spheniscus genus of Penguins, along with the closely related African Penguin and the Humboldt and Galapagos Penguins. Populations of Magellanic penguins are distributed along the southern coast of Chile and Argentina (from Peninsula Valdez to Tierra del Fuego). Further smaller populations are found on the Falkland Islands. The main colonies are at Punta Tombo in Argentina (up to 250000 pairs) and Magdalena Island in Chile (up to 60000 pairs).
No subspecies or subtypes are recognized.
Magellanic penguins feed on a variety of organisms such as small fish (e.g. anchovies), cephalopods (e.g. squids) and crustaceans (e.g. krill). The diet at any particular location and time reflects fluctuations in food availability. Fish are the most abundant prey during the breeding season. When food is plentiful near the colony, fishing is usually a daytime activity within around 30km of the coast with penguins returning to land in the late afternoon.
Adult Magellanic penguins usually remain near their colonies at all times with only birds from the most southerly colonies moving to warmer waters during the winter period. Immature birds are less bound to the colony and tend to be found near food sources.