I decided to write some more about the penguin phenomenon that is happening here because I actually saw a live one on Monday! I went running, and stopped for my standard post-run coconut water that I buy from a woman who has a little stand in view of the ocean. I was spacing out, drinking my coconut and looking at the water when I caught a glimpse of what looked like a large, black bird swimming right off the coast. I said to the lady, "Is that a penguin?" and at first she said "no", but after we sat there and watched it for a while, it soon turned over on its back and we could see the white belly. It was a penguin all right! I felt real bad for the little guy and decided that I should call the group that is helping the penguins to see if they could send someone to rescue the guy. Well, turns out they only rescue them if they are on land. When they are still out there swimming, they have to fend for themselves.
The penguins are making quite a stir here. They started to appear in mid-July, and so far like 120 or so have appeared in the Salvador area. Some folks are doing really lame things, like trying to sell them for R$500 (about $312 US with the current exchange rate) or even BBQing them, as Vilma saw on the news (so sad!). But there is one group that is doing its best to gather up the live ones, give them fish and medicine, and then ship them back down to southern Argentina where they belong.
There was a super cute photo on the front page of the print newspaper yesterday of a group of penguins at the institute that is helping them, all standing around looking adorable. I love penguins! I just hope that this phenomenon will end soon, and that there won´t be an even larger number of them appearing here that are obviously mixed up somehow and migrating to the north, when they should be in their native cold water down in Patagonia.
PS. I took this photo from the online Salvador newspaper, A Tarde.