They’re mighty tiny but very important — both the Tuckers Islets and the small penguins that call them home for half of the year.
Located near the western end of Admiralty Sound (Seno Almirantazgo) in the Fuegan Archipelago, the remote islands sustain a nesting colony of around 4,000 Magellanic penguins between March and August.
During those months, sea and weather conditions permitting, Australis ships make Zodiac excursions to the Tuckers as part of several cruise itineraries including Darwin’s Route from Punta Arenas and Darwin’s Route from Ushuaia.
Chilean authorities prohibit stepping ashore on the islands in order to protect the birds and their fragile habitat. But edging close to the beach in the rubber inflatables, it’s easy to observe and photograph the penguins nesting in their burrows, raising chicks that have already hatched, or waddling in and out of the sea.
Not nearly as many penguins sojourn here as on Isla Magdalena in the Strait of Magellan. But the Tuckers provide a much more intimate visit with the black-and-white birds. Not to mention also providing a much more picturesque location with islands covered in grasses, mosses, small trees and other sub-polar vegetation as compared to the barren dirt and rock-like Magdalena.
There’s also a chance to spot other feathered residents — the king cormorants, oystercatchers, Chilean skuas, kelp geese, dolphin gulls, eagles and even the occasional Andean condors that call on the Tucker Islets.