Patagonian fjords: finding corals and surprises

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National Geographic - We’ve been at the Huinay Scientific Field Station for 3 days and 4 nights, and it’s all gone by like a whirlwind. Like all expeditions there have been high points, low points and a fair few “standby to standby” moments.
 
We arrived here in the evening on the 8th having driven from Puerto Montt and caught a small boat belonging to the station in Hornopiren, and immediately set to unpacking gear and getting ready for a full day of diving. It’s winter here in Chile, but so far it’s been a mild one in Huinay; last week temperatures even hiked into the 50’s. Though this area doesn’t get a lot of snow, one thing they do get (and in buckets) is rain – over 6m a year average. This trip was planned in the winter months, to take advantage of clearer winter waters, though just at the end of the wet season in the hopes of missing big downpours. But one thing you quickly learn when you plan expeditions: you can never predict the weather.
 
Our first day here saw a quick check-out dive from the station’s dock, followed by an exploratory dive at a site close to the station where corals have been reported. This is a site that lies right in the wake of a salmon farm (of which there are many in the Northern fjords region). The idea behind taking samples at this location would be to compare them to a “pristine” site that we plan to sample in a few days at Renihue Fjord, a site within the protected Pumalin Park. That way I can compare how reproduction differs between locations (and is potentially affected by the salmon farms), and oceanographic sensors we’re deploying will tell us how the environment changes over the course of a year. Read more..

 



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