An Update from Durden

Dear Caz

At last the dreaded molt is over, and my friends and I are finally setting off 
on our winter vacations. You may think it odd that we are taking our winter vacations 
now, but where we live near to the South Pole (called the southern hemisphere 
because it is the southern half of the world) our winter takes place during June 
through August, when people living in the northern hemisphere are enjoying their 
summer.

We are looking really smart in our new feathers, but after four weeks without 
food we are really hungry, and catching lots of fish is the first thing we are 
going to do now that we are back in the water. After being unable to go into 
the water for a month, we will now spend all our time in the water making up 
for it. We will not come out of the water again until October, when we return 
home to lay more eggs and have more chicks.

Penguins are happiest in the water. We only come ashore when we have to, for 
example to lay eggs, to raise chicks, and to change our feathers. The rest of 
the time we never come ashore. We eat, sleep and play in the open ocean without 
ever coming ashore, often for weeks or even months.

We will spend our winter vacations in Brazil, but most people living in Brazil 
don’t even know that they have penguins living there. That is because we always 
remain in the ocean a few kilometres away from the beach, where nobody can see 
us. The only people we ever see are a few fisherman passing by in their fishing 
boats, but they don’t bother us. They are trying to catch fish, not penguins. 
And they couldn’t catch us even if they wanted to, because we are far too fast 
for their slow moving boats.

Brazil is a very long way from where we are at the moment. It will take us more 
than a month to reach Brazil. We have to swim all the way up the coast of Argentina 
and Uruguay before we reach Brazil. I attach a map showing just how far we have 
to travel. We usually stop and rest along the coast of Uruguay, and sometimes 
if we are late setting off we remain in Uruguay, but this year we will be carrying 
on to Brazil.

We will swim northwards slowly, enjoying the journey, and making lots of stops 
to catch fish and to rest. When we swim slowly we travel along on the surface 
of the water, with our heads held up high above the water so that we can see 
where we are going (see photo). We have to be careful because there are patches 
of dirty oil floating on the water along this part of the coastline. The oil 
comes from oil tankers and other large ships that travel along the coast of South 
America.

If we swim into one of these patches of oil our nice clean feathers would get 
all oily, so we must be careful. We only travel in the daylight, and we swim 
with our heads held up high so that we can see what is in front of us as we are 
swimming along.

I will write to you again when we reach Brazil, but that will not be for a few 
weeks. In the meantime we have a long journey ahead.

Lots of love from Durden (our Adopted Penguin)

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