The glaciologists from Bristol

The glaciologists from Bristol

In February 2018 we had the pleasure to welcome back Professor Jemma Wadham and Dr Jonathan Hawkings, this time they were accompanied by their master’s student Anna Covey. They are all part of the terrestrial team of the PISCES project (Patagonian Ice field Shrinkage impacts on Coastal and fjord Ecosystems).

This project aims to investigatewhether melting of the

Patagonian ice fields (group of glaciers connected together) is having an impact on the bugs and fish that live in the fjord next door to them. There is different teams of researchers both from Chile and UK that are working on particular part of the project. Find out more about the project PISCES project here.

There are two main sites of investigation in Patagonia, one is the Steffan Glacier and its

proglacial lake which constitute the glaciated field site, while the other one is the Comau Fjord that is a former glaciated site and constitute the deglaciated field site. The terrestrial team is working on the biogeochemistry of the rivers, and fjord connected or not to a glacier to study the inputs of sediment and nutriment into the fjord.

This is the second year the UK scientists have come to Huinay to study the Comau Fjord, and – as last time – they put sensors instruments in the river next to the foundation. That way they can have high resolution river monitoring during the couple of weeks they are staying. The sensors they put into the river are monitoring the pH, the turbidity

(quantity of sediments in the water), the Environmental Conductivity ((EC) dissolved element in the water), the temperatures of the air and the water and the amount of sunlight the river gets. They also put gauging stations that will stay in the water throughout the year and that will record the water level.

Jonathan Hawkings installing the gauge station

Every day Anna and Jemma visited the river, recorded the data from the sensors and sampled the water to study the amount of ions, sediments, nutrients and dissolved oxygen (DO) of the river.

Jonathan Hawkings installing the gauge station

Jonathan Hawkings installing the gauge station

In addition to that daily work, they sampled water from other local rivers and from a hot spring to quantify different nutrient sources of the Comau fjord. They also took ocean water samples within the fjord using CTDs and Niskin bottles up to 300m of depth.

After two weeks, Jonathan and a team of Chileans researchers went south to study the Steffan Glacier while Jemma and Anna stayed longer at Huinay. They said it was to study the river longer but between us, they chose to stay because they loved the place and

the food! They loved it so much that they will be back this winter and brave the rain…

From left to right: Research Assistant Mette Schiønning, Volunteer Camille Meline, Professor Jemma Wadham, Database Manager Stacy Ballyram and Msc student Anna Covey.

World of the Myofauna

The research station of Fundación Huinay in the Comau fjord (Lakes Region) delves deep into the unknowns of marine life in Patagonia. While scientists at the station continue to see and categorize potential new species, visiting scientists Dr. Andreas Rhaesa (Universitӓt Hamburg, Germany) and Matthew Lee (Universidad de Los Lagos, Chile) seek to explore and understand those creatures which cannot easily be seen. Each are experts in the little known world of the Meiofauna, the vast and incredibly diverse range of multicellular animals which occupy a murky, ubiquitous zone of life. Meiofauna are larger than simple cellular life, but are animals so complex and yet so small one can hardly conceive of their existence.

During a five day stay at the labs, the researchers collaborated to sample sediments from various environments in Comau fjord and extract the interstitial fluids in the sediment to observe life within these confided spaces. The interstitial space is the water moving between microscopic gaps in the sediment grains and it’s a habitat thoroughly occupied and utilized by a unique assemblage of Meiofauna. Describing these tiny creatures can be a daunting task, requiring delicate, tedious labor in the labs. Even one 50mL sample may take days or more of dedicated laboratory work to process. There are 20 known phyla branches in the Meiofauna group and just one, Nematodes, may be as diverse as all insect life. Examining the species living in the upper sediment means observing minute details, as well as careful handling of the fragile, often translucent organisms.

Dr. Rhaesa is particularly interested in discovering new species and observing what known species are present in the sediment, while Dr. Lee will focus on the ecological community of Meiofauna, such as dominant groups or community structure between different environments. Their range of taxonomic and ecological understanding provides a holistic approach to studying Meiofauna diversity. Together, their visit has started new partnerships and cracked open the door to an unseen world in Huinay. The researchers will study samples collected in the Comau fjord as well as in other parts of Chile; the discoveries they make are only limited to the diversity and strangeness of the Meiofauna studied.

What is more interesting, the world you see or the one you don’t see?

What is more interesting, the world you see or the one you don’t see?

The group of scientist visiting Huinay at the moment to conduct their research would choose the latter. Eduardo Castro-Nallar, assistant professor for bio-informatics and integrative biology at the University of Andrés Bello, and his colleagues are taking a look at the microbial communities that live in the Leptepu fjord. As they already collected samples last year at two different depths (closer to the surface at 5 meters and at 20 meters) they can now compare their results to this year’s samples (one sample is about 40l each) and see how the microbial communities have been developing over time. The group of scientist set out to find the effects the changing of the seasons, varying temperatures and the salmon production that is widely spread in the fjord, have on these basic live forms.

Processing the water samples through different filters, they extract algae, bacteria and viruses. They are working with a standardized process, which can be very boring and lengthy, sometimes until late in the night. But so far they are very happy with the lab equipment, the location of the station, that offers access to a very unique and remote ecosystem, and the food (which is obviously the most important thing). They even went so far as to call Huinay a “Research-Resort”, a complement we gracefully accepted.

On their first trip to Huinay they were surprised that these microbes are completely unique and therefore have not yet been studied. That is also the reason why Guus Martjn Teunisse, a M.Sc Student of Biology and Bioinformatics at the University of Amsterdam, is part of the team. He is developing a system to categorize bacteria, viruses and genes to shorten the identification process for microbes and to offer the full picture of different ecosystems.

They could confirm a decline in total biomass compared to the samples from 2016, which could be a consequence from seasonal changes in the ecosystem. But more important than this, is the possible effect the solmoneras  have on the microbial communities with their excessive use of antibiotics. For the last 20 years, the salmon production in Chile has been growing 42% per annum, making it the 2nd largest salmon producer after Norway. The lack of regulation of the industry has permitted salmon farms to use higher quantities of antibiotics, including medicine that is also used for fighting human diseases.

 

And that’s exactly the heart of the project; finding out if or how antibiotics affect the ecosystem, microbial communities and human beings.

Eduardo and his team plan to come back next year to observe the sea lions and to determine if they or other animals in the food chain have been affected by the input of antibiotics in the aquaculture pens. Regarding the development of the bacteria, they are going to travel down south into fjords that are not affected by salmoneras to obtain more data for future comparisons.

The glaciologists from Bristol

The glaciologists from Bristol

In February 2018 we had the pleasure to welcome back Professor Jemma Wadham and Dr Jonathan Hawkings, this time they were accompanied by their master’s student Anna Covey. They are all part of the terrestrial team of the PISCES project (Patagonian Ice field Shrinkage impacts on Coastal and fjord Ecosystems).

This project aims to investigate whether melting of the Patagonian ice fields (group of glaciers connected together) is having an impact on the bugs and fish that live in the fjord next door to them. There are different teams of researchers both from Chile and UK that are working on particular parts of the project. Find out more about the project PISCES project here.

There are two main sites of investigation in Patagonia, one is the Steffan Glacier and its proglacial lake which constitutes the glaciated field site, whereas the other one is the Comau Fjord that is a former glaciated site and constitutes the deglaciated field site. The terrestrial team is working on the biogeochemistry of the rivers connected to a fjord and not a glacier to study the inputs of sediment and nutrients.

This is the second year the UK scientists have come to Huinay to study the Comau Fjord, and – as last time – they put sensors instruments in the river next to the foundation. That way they can have high resolution river monitoring during the couple of weeks they are staying. The sensors they put into the river monitor the pH, the turbidity (quantity of sediments in the water), the Environmental Conductivity (EC) dissolved element in the water), the temperatures of the air and the water and the amount of sunlight in the river. They also put gauging stations that will stay in the water throughout the year and that will record the water level.

Jonathan Hawkings installing the gauge station

Every day Anna and Jemma visited the river, recorded the data from the sensors and sampled the water to study the amount of ions, sediments, nutrients and dissolved oxygen (DO) of the river.

Jonathan Hawkings installing the gauge station

Jonathan Hawkings installing the gauge station

In addition to that daily work, they sampled water from other local rivers and from a hot spring to quantify different nutrient sources of the Comau fjord. They also took ocean water samples within the fjord using CTDs and Niskin bottles up to 300m of depth.

After two weeks, Jonathan and a team of Chilean researchers went south to study the Steffan Glacier while Jemma and Anna stayed longer at Huinay. They said it was to study the river longer but between us, they chose to stay because they loved the place and the food! They loved it so much that they will be back this winter and brave the rain…

2From left to right: Research Assistant Mette Schiønning, Volunteer Camille Meline, Professor Jemma Wadham, Database Manager Stacy Ballyram and Msc student Anna Covey.

CORFO: Madre de Dios Archipelago – July 2016

CORFO: Madre de Dios Archipelago – July 2016

A beautiful video that was filmed during the expedition by Geográfica Producciones.

A glance at the diving expedition carried out at the Madre de Dios Archipelago in July 2016 for the CORFO INNOVA – CEQUA – SERNATUR Aysén / Magallanes Project about developing underwater tourism in cold water regions.
Director: Ernesto Davis
Biologist: Mathias Hüne
Audiovisual: Fernando Luchsinger

Acknowledgements: Expedición Fitz Roy and to M/N Forrest
Fundación Huinay: Francine Beaujot – Rodrigo Sánchez

A Family of Explorers

A Family of Explorers

Overall the expedition is a huge success, both for the oceanographic team and for the divers! We return to Punta Arenas with big smiles and incredible memories.

Swimming Amongst the ´Bergs

Swimming Amongst the ´Bergs

We are lucky enough to be able to approach two glacier on the expedition, Amalia Glacier and Rengo Glacier and we can’t resist putting our drysuits on the go for a dip in the icy water.

A Job Well Done

A Job Well Done

We celebrate being done with our work in Canal Copihue and enjoy the sights. We were happy to step foot on land to assist with some freshwater collections.

Recruiting Life

Recruiting Life

After swapping out the two current meters in two different sites we began the process of photographing the long term monitoring experiments. To our surprise some of the recruitment plates we put out in March 2016 already had some life on them! Some anemones (closed up in this picture) are happy to colonize the free space.

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