27 Mar 2018

27 Mar 18 - The Estancia Harberton Cetacean Museum

I visited Estancia Harberton in my first trip to Argentina in 1998. At the time the museum wasn't open to visitors. However, it has since opened its doors to the public. Glenn had been saying one of his friends had visited the museum & had been impressed, so we decided to give it a go after the Beagle Channel cruise. It would have been a lot quicker had we been able to get off the boat for an hour on the cruise to look around the Estancia, but that wasn't possible. So having got back to Ushuaia, then I was happy to return by car for the late afternoon for a quick visit.
The original Estancia phone
The museum is dedicated to the study of stranded Cetaceans, other marine Mammals & Birds from the Argentinian Tierra Del Fuego area. It was set up by the late Natalie Goodall, who was the wife of the Estancia manager. It contains the skeletons of 2700 Cetaceans & marine Mammals, as well as, 2300 Birds. There is a small team of staff who work on preparing future skeletons (from stranded corpses by slowly & naturally cleaning up the skeletons) and showing visitors around the museum. Apparently, the museum gets a number of scientific visitors who which to spend more time studying the skeletons as it is such an extensive collection. I thought it was well worth a visit. Before entering the museum, we had to visit the main building to buy an entrance ticket & check out the chocolate cake (good choice).
An old storage bottle from C&E Morton, London
Sperm Whale head: One of the exhibits that is too large to house in the current museum space
Sperm Whale head
Sperm Whale lower jaw
Sperm Whale teeth
Baleen Whales: Can't remember which ones they are
Cuvier's Beaked Whale: One of the most widespread of the Beaked Whales & species I'm still to see
Cuvier's Beaked Whale teeth
False Killer Whale: With an Orca for comparison
Spectacled Porpoises
Burmeister's Porpoise
Southern Right Whale Dolphin: with a Bottlenose Dolphin head
Commerson's Dolphin
Peale's Dolphin
South American Sealion
Magellanic Penguin
King Penguin: with photo-bombing Crab
All too soon it was time to pick up Geoff & Josh on the approach road & head back to Ushuaia. I had to return the car before the airport closed. A small lake on the approach road held a few Ducks.
Crested Duck
Bahama Pintail
Having been unable to get into La Campana National Park in Chile at night, I still needed Rufous-legged Owl & there was an Owl trip planned for that evening. While we did see Rufous-legged Owl, I cannot recommend anybody else to go with local guide Marcelo, who is the worse person I've even been owling with. I've spend a lot of time looking for Owls in the tropics & have a pretty good success rate of seeing them well if they respond to tapes. If Owls have come in close, then it is often possible to find their silhouette before turning on the torch. Failing that then it is often possible to work out where they are calling from before turning on a torch. Marcelo approach involved putting his torch on far too quick & then wave it around randomly as soon as he heard a close calling Owl. This was not helped by not listening to directions from people who were telling him where it was sitting. All this random torch waving resulted in the inevitable result of the Rufous-legged Owl rapidly disappearing. We did get a few brief additional views as a result of the same random torch waving technique, as surprisingly it carried on calling. All in all, it was very amateur-ish in my opinion given he is suppose to be the top Ushuaia guide & the price per person was over-inflated. There was another trip into the National Park the following day, which I didn't go on given my lack of good impressions of the Owl trip.

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