Guide to Patagonia's Monsters & Mysterious beings

I have written a book on this intriguing subject which has just been published.
In this blog I will post excerpts and other interesting texts on this fascinating subject.

Austin Whittall

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Swimming deer


swimming Huemul
Huemul nadando en el lago Futalaufquen (Huemul swimming in Lake Futalafquen). Photo: Daniel Marchetti. From [1].

Today is our "explaining monsters" day. So after our previous post on otters, we will look into swimming deer.

Most people ignore that deer are good swimmers and would not expect to see one in the middle of a Patagonian lake. As you can see in the photograph (which shows a swimming Huemul at Lake Futalafquen in the Los Alerces National Park, Chubut, Argentina), they are an odd sight.

The huemul (Hippocamelus bisulcus) is a stocky Patagonian deer that is about 1 meter (3.3 feet) tall and 1,65 m (5.4 ft.) long, and weighs between 40 and 100 kg. (88 - 220 lb.). Like all deer, males have antlers about 30 cm (1 ft.) long. Interestingly they escape persistent pursuers by swimming into lakes. They can swim with ease and are indeed an “amphibious” creature.

Its habitat ranged from 34°S to the Strait of Magellan and from the Pacific Ocean to the edge of the steppe. But now, its limited and endangered population of less than 1.000 individuals lives in isolated pockets within the Chilean and Argentine Andean mountain forests.

In northern Patagonia, Red Deer (Cervus elaphus) one of the world’s largest deer species were introduced from Europe in the early 1920s. Lacking predators they reproduced quickly and displaced the native huemul from its habitat in this area.

They swim well and have a big body mass. Any one not acquainted with these beasts could mistake them for strange lake beings. Take a look at the photograph below (not in Patagonia, and not a Red deer) it is incredible.

swimming deer
Blacktail Deer and sailboat, Gig Harbor/Pt. Defiance. Photo: John Pleau. From [2].


[1] Parks Watch. © 2004 ParksWatch. Parque Nacional los Alerces
[2] John Pleau. Ray Nash Images. 23.08.2009. Post Cards take #4

Copyright 2009 by Austin Whittall ©

Patagonian Monsters

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