They are no longer chased or hunted like they used to be in the past. The South American sea lions find a quiet and safe place to live at the Punta Pirámides Provincial Reserve.
On the shore opposite Puerto Madryn
, within the Nuevo Gulf coastline, lies the Puerto Pirámides provincial reserve.
Due to its particular shape, which resembles the silhouette of a boat, for a long time this place has been used as the scene of maneuvers for the shooting practices of the Argentinian Navy.
This was the main reason for several cliffs and sandbars to be crumbled and destroyed, which has jeopardized the colony of sea lions. But, these mammals have experienced more serious threats, such as being slaughtered for their fur and fat.
In order to revert this situation, hunting permits were canceled more than 20 years ago and the colony began to recover. Nowadays, the reserve operates as the habitat for more than 20,000 specimens, the same amount that was killed each year.
In Punta Norte, there are still remains of this exploitation. The iron boilers, countless pieces of fur and thousands of bones spread all over the beach are testimonies from those days.
This reserve protects one of the most outstanding rookeries and breeding sites for southern sea lions in the Valdés Peninsula.
The sea lions and their offspring may be watched from a large rocky platform which has the shape of a cliff located dozens of meters over the place occupied by the colony.
The males are three times the size of the females, whose fur is golden brown. The males, instead, are different from the females for their dark brown color and their bulky neck, which is referred to as their mane.
According to season, the cliffs area is also visited by the right whales, which find a particular shelter in the coves.
Guanacos and choiques dwell the steppe area of the peninsula, and other animals, such as martinetas, Patagonian hares, foxes, skunks and piches can be found among the bushes. Furthermore, the seagulls, petrels and doves fly over this natural environment.
How to get here: Punta Pirámides is located inside the Valdés Peninsula Integral Fauna Reserve, 32km from the entrance along the rubble road, very close to the Puerto Pirámides village.
Bear in mind: The best time to visit this reserve is between December and March, when the colony is undergoing the mating and breeding period.