Científicos de todo el mundo participan de un Workshop en Huinay

Científicos de todo el mundo participan de un Workshop en Huinay

Entre el 17 y el 24 de febrero 2019 se realizó un nuevo taller científico en la Estación Científica de Huinay, donde científicos provenientes de Australia, Nueva Zelanda, Finlandia, Escocia y Canadá estuvieron presentes para apoyar y discutir sus estudios sobre los efectos del cambio climático en la abundancia de la vida marina mundial. El taller liderado por el  Dr. Graham Edgar fue realizado como parte de dos proyectos más grandes que engloban tanto el cambio climático global y el estado de las áreas protegidas marinas en el mundo entero.

¿Cuál es la importancia de la visita del grupo de científicos de la Universidad de Tasmania?

El objetivo principal de este grupo es descubrir como las temperaturas elevadas del mar afectan las especies de los arrecifes y específicamente a las consecuencias de los Eventos de El Niño-Oscilación del Sur, (El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO)). Informes del IPCC (2018) indican que entre los años 2030 y 2052 el mundo tendrá una aumento de 1.5 grados Celsius sobre los niveles de temperatura preindustrial. Más que 93% de este calor generado por la emisión de gases de efectivo invernadero ha sido absorbido por el mar (IUCN 2017). Se estima que la temperatura media del mar va a aumentar entre 1 y 4 grados por el año 2100. Debido a este aumento de temperatura del mar se predice que existirá una pérdida de entre un 70-90% de la biodiversidad de los de arrecifes corales mundiales (IPCC 2018). Adicionalmente, este aumento de temperatura afecta a los peces, aves y mamíferos ya que se intensifican la perdida de áreas de reproducción, aumentan las mortalidades y las migraciones de especies (IUCN 2017).

Uno de los propósitos del taller fue realizar mediante buceos en distintos puntos del fiordo, transectos en sitios originalmente visitados en 2012, así poder corroborar los efectos del Área marina protegida de múltiples usos en la conservación de la biodiversidad y que son parte de la red de la Encuesta de Vida de Arrecifes. Esta encuesta (Reef Life Survey, o RLS por sus siglas en inglés) es un programa mundial de ciencia ciudadana para monitorear la biodiversidad marina. El Dr. Edgar usó estos resultados anteriormente en su investigación de la efectividad de áreas protegidas marinas en el mundo entero. Este estudio fue publicado en la reconocida revista Nature y las conclusiones fueron que por lo menos cuatro de cinco requisitos se deben cumplir para que las áreas protegidas marinas puedan tener un impacto considerable en la conservación de la biodiversidad en comparación con áreas marinas sin protección. Los cinco requisitos son: que sea una zona sin explotación debidamente aplicada, que posean un tamaño de más que 100 km cuadrados, que posean una edad sobre 10 años y que este aislado por aguas profundas o arena.

Luego de las inmersiones en el área protegida. ¿Cuáles fueron las conclusiones o las impresiones de los científicos internacionales?

El Dr. Graham Edgar de la Universidad de Tasmania, líder de este grupo de investigación se refirió a lo que vió durante la visita en sus buceos: [no vi ningún indicador de ventajas realizada a la conservación por el área marina protegida]. El expone [Las actividades humanas han tenido un impacto negativo en el ecosistema del fiordo desde mi visita seis años atrás. Hay mucha basura de la acuicultura y la pesca artesanal, que ya está distribuida por el fondo del mar y los plásticos por las orillas. La abundancia de las especies de corales de aguas profundas también parece declinar. El área marina protegida no parece respetada por lo que ha producido pocas o ninguna ventaja que yo pudiera ver.] Sin embargo, el Dr. Edgar dijo que sigue estando fascinado por la vida marina única que se encuentra en la región, “incluyendo muchas especies normalmente limitados a aguas profundas. Ellos que no han cambiado mucho desde la era de los dinosauros.] Sostuvo el científico en conversaciones con nuestro personal.

¿Cuáles son los desafíos planteados tras la visita de este grupo de científicos?

Los desafíos planteados corresponden a evidenciar la efectividad del área marina protegida de San Ignacio del Huinay, pero tristemente esta área no cumple con los requisitos de Dr. Edgar en sus investigaciones ya que en esta área se permite la pesca artesanal, el cultivo de mariscos y salmones dentro del área ya que es un área de categoría de múltiples usos, entonces no cumple con los requisitos de ‘sin explotación’. El tamaño es solo 4.15 km cuadrados, entonces menos que 100 km cuadrados. Por último, no está aislado en ubicación de contaminación ni tráfico de lanchas. Sin embargo, todas estas actividades son con el permiso de la ley, ya que la designación del área protegida marina es de múltiples usos. Finalmente como conclusión tras la visita de este grupo de científicos es, si las áreas protegidas de múltiples usos realmente valen su designación, ya que no tienen ventajas que puedan ser probadas para a la conservación de la biodiversidad del lugar.

Anthozoa.com

Ecosystem Research in Chilean Patagonia

Telephone

Scientific Office: +56 652912147

Mailbox

Casilla # 1150, Puerto Montt, Chile.

 

Huinay (HSFS)

Designed by wyd.cl | © 2018 www.anthozoa.com. All rights reserved.

What is the importance of the visit of the group of scientists from the University of Tasmania?

What is the importance of the visit of the group of scientists from the University of Tasmania?

Between 17 and 24 February 2019 a scientific workshop was held at the Fundacion San Ignacio del Huinay, where scientists from Australia, New Zealand, Finland, Scotland and Canada came together to support and discuss how they can in their individual fields contribute to the study of climate change and it’s impacts on marine life worldwide. Dr. Graham Edgar and Dr. Mark Costello, conducted as part of two larger projects that encompass both global climate change and the status of marine protected areas worldwide, led the workshop.

The main objective of this group is to discover how high sea temperatures are affecting reef species, specifically concerning the consequences of El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) events. IPCC reports (2018) indicate that between 2030 and 2052 the world will have an increase of 1.5 degrees Celsius over pre-industrial temperature levels. More than 93% of this heat generated by the emission of effective greenhouse gases has been absorbed by the sea (IUCN 2017). It is estimated that the average sea temperature will increase between 1 and 4 degrees by the year 2100. Due to this increase in sea temperature, it is predicted that there will be a loss of between 70-90% of the biodiversity of the world’s coral reefs (IPCC 2018). Additionally, this increase in temperature affects fish, birds and mammals, as the loss of breeding areas intensifies, mortalities increase and species migrations increase (IUCN 2017).

One of the purposes of the workshop was to conduct dives in different points of the fjord, transects in sites originally visited in 2012, to corroborate the effects of the multiple use Marine Protected Area of the Fundacion San Ignacio del Huinay on biodiversity conservation, which was part of the network of the global Reef Life Survey. This Reef Life Survey (RLS) is a global citizen science program that monitors marine biodiversity. The results of the original survey was published in the highly respected scientific journal ‘Nature’ as part of a global study on the effectiveness of marine protected areas worldwide. Conclusions were that at least four out of five requirements must be met for marine protected areas to have a significant impact on biodiversity conservation, compared to unprotected marine areas. The five requirements are: that it be an area without properly applied exploitation, larger than 100 square km, approximately 10 years old, and that the area should be isolated by deep water or sand.

After the dives in the protected area. What were the conclusions or impressions of international
scientists?

Dr. Graham Edgar of the University of Tasmania, leader of this research group referred to what he saw during the visit on his dives, “I saw no indicator of conservation benefits made by the marine protected area”. He exposes “Human activities have had a negative impact on the fjord ecosystem since my visit six years ago. There is a lot of garbage from aquaculture and artisanal fishing, which is already distributed on the bottom of the sea and plastics on the shores. The abundance of deep-water coral species also seems to be declining. The marine protected area does not seem to be respected so it [the designation as an MPA] has produced little or no advantage that I could see.” However, Dr. Edgar said he remains fascinated by the unique marine life found in the region,” including many species normally limited to deep waters. They haven’t changed much since the dinosaur era!”

What are the challenges posed after the visit of this group of scientists?

The challenges posed corresponded to the true effectiveness of the marine protected area of San Ignacio del Huinay. Unfortunately, according to the study by Dr. Edgar and various scientists, this particular MPA is considered ineffective. Reasons for this include the allowance of artisanal fishing, the cultivation of shellfish and salmon within the boundaries of the area. Ideally, to have a significant impact on biodiversity conservation the area should be one of no exploitation or a ‘no-take’ area. Additionally, the size of the San Ignacio del Huinay MPA is only 4.15 sq km (significantly less than the 100 sq km proposed for minimal biodiversity conservation benefit) and finally, the MPA is not isolatedto boat traffic. Nonetheless, all these activities are with the permission of the law, since the designation of this marine protected area is for multiple uses. As a conclusion, it is questionable whether the designation of protected areas as multiple-use are really worth it?

Anthozoa.com

Ecosystem Research in Chilean Patagonia

Telephone

Scientific Office: +56 652912147

Mailbox

Casilla # 1150, Puerto Montt, Chile.

 

Huinay (HSFS)

Designed by wyd.cl | © 2018 www.anthozoa.com. All rights reserved.

Cambio climático, EL NIÑO y la salmonicultura. Una combinación peligrosa.

Cambio climático, EL NIÑO y la salmonicultura. Una combinación peligrosa.

Lo ecosistemas de fiordos y canales de la Patagonia han demostrado ser altamente vulnerables, la extensa línea de costa que se alcanza hasta el extremo sur del territorio han de ser una fuente de múltiples servicios ecosistémicos, que en la actualidad no han sido medidos adecuadamente ni valorados por las políticas actuales (Iriarte et al 2010). Hoy en día las alteraciones en el ciclo hidrológico, la acidificación del Océano, la eutrofización, desoxigenación del océano y la acuicultura son las amenazas más preocupantes. Ésta última, probablemente, es la actividad con el mayor impacto en los ecosistemas marinos costeros de la Patagonia chilena. Con el auge de esta industria, el interés científico en la Patagonia chilena también aumentó, pero desde entonces el conocimiento científico está muy por detrás, siendo de los ecosistemas menos conocidos a nivel mundial (Häussermann & Försterra, 2009; Niklitschek et al., 2011). La expansión de la industria de cultivos de salmón ha provocado una preocupación nacional e internacional por su potencial impacto negativo en el área costera del sur de Chile, que tiene un mosaico de ecosistemas con características únicas y tres reservas mundiales de la biosfera. La preocupación científica mundial llego a tal que la prestigiosa revista Nature publicó una carta al gobierno de Chile llamando a cooperar en la contención del daño de sus granjas de salmón (Vester & Timme, 2010). Varios estudios ya han dado cuenta sobre la reducción de la biodiversidad y el aumento de la eutrofización (Buschmann et al., 2006; Häussermann et al., 2013; Mayr et al., 2014).

Por definición los fiordos y canales de la Patagonia poseen una alta influencia de agua dulce, este aporte es indispensable para el equilibrio de nutrientes en la columna de agua, permitiendo que estacionalmente exista una alta productividad primaria. Los cambios en el régimen de agua dulce y el intercambio de materia entre los sistemas terrestres y oceánicos costeros, impulsados por el cambio climático y/o las actividades humanas directas, afectan los nutrientes y el ciclo del carbono y por lo tanto, la salud de los ecosistemas de los fiordos costeros (Iriarte et al 2010).

Fig 1. Modelo esquemático de un ecosistema de fiordos, servicios, energía y flujos de materia considerando conductores directos e indirectos en los fiordos de la Patagonia.

Por otro lado, los cambios en las proporciones de nutrientes (N: P y Si: N) cambian la composición del fitoplancton provocando floraciones que reducen la calidad del agua y causan eventos hipoxia temporal, es decir, reducen los niveles de oxígeno en la columna de agua debido a la descomposición de la biomasa después de la floración, este tipo de condiciones propician las floraciones tóxicas, debido a especies potencialmente tóxicas. Ambos tipos de floraciones pueden tener serias consecuencias en la salud de la población humana y en la economía local (turismo, pesca artesanal, miticultura y salmonicultura). Como consecuencia de la gran cantidad de fertilizantes y antibióticos que son utilizados en las granjas de salmón, fuente constante de amonio, estimulan la proliferación estacional de fitoplancton y estimulan el crecimiento de algas nocivas en el Sur de Chile (Arzul et al, 1999; Iriarte et al, 2005).
El NIÑO ‘’Godzilla’’ .

A principios del año 2015 el servicio de los Estados Unidos, NOAA emitió una primera alerta debido a una anomalía en la oscilación y debilitamiento de los vientos alisios este tipo de cambios en las altas y bajas presiones de la zona tropical eran un claro indicio de un evento de EL NIÑO se aproximaba en los próximos meses, con el paso de las semanas este evento fue tomando fuerza y fue catalogado como EL NIÑO ‘’Godzilla’’ siendo el de mayor intensidad de los que existan registros. En términos generales el evento de EL NIÑO es una perturbación del sistema Océano-Atmósfera del Pacífico Tropical que tiene un alto impacto en las condiciones meteorológicas y climáticas globales. Ésta es catalogada la mayor señal climática que existe actualmente en nuestro planeta. Durante EL NIÑO la temperatura superficial del mar (TSM) y la temperatura del aire en la región oriental del Pacífico tropical aumentan varios grados (Pizarro & Montecinos, 2004). En Chile es sabido que durante los eventos de El NIÑO aumenta la precipitación en la zona central de Chile y en el océano la temperatura aumenta entre 2 a 4 grados y tiende a golpear solo las costas norte y de Chile central, extendiéndose solo hasta el sur de Valparaíso. Sin embargo, se ha demostrado en el último tiempo existe un cambio meteorológico que empuja los sistemas de alta presión hacia la Patagonia: que se traducen en más días soleados, menos lluvia (menos escorrentía de agua dulce), que aumentan la salinidad del agua y mejoran las condiciones para las floraciones de fitoplancton en las aguas costeras.

Figura 2. Imagen de la temperatura superficial escalada por los satélites del NOAA.

En abril del año 2015 un grupo de científicos de la estación Científica de Huinay que realizaban una expedición explorando las costas de Aysén descubren en el área una gran concentración de ballenas en descomposición varadas por la costa alrededor del Golfo Tres Montes en la región de Aysén. En un principio se descubrieron un grupo pequeño de 36 que luego en una segunda exploración en el mes de junio se pudieron constatar más de 340 ballenas sei muertas por toda la costa. La gran mortandad masiva de estos cetáceos, fue uno de los eventos naturales más importantes y que generó un fuerte impacto en la comunidad científica nacional e internacional por aquel entonces. Las misteriosas circunstancias en que fueron descubiertas fue el punto de partida de muchos cuestionamientos e hipótesis por parte de las autoridades locales y de los grupos de científicos que desarrollaron la investigación. Los afloramientos masivos de algas nocivas producidas por el aumento de las temperaturas superficiales del agua y un aumento de la salinidad en los fiordos debido a este fuerte evento del NIÑO serían concluyentes en las hipótesis que se barajaron.

Otras consecuencias de anomalías climáticas y oceanográficas fueron registrados en febrero de 2016, donde una intensa floración de la microalga Pseudochatonella verruculosa ocurrida en la Región de Los Lagos tuvo como consecuencia una masiva mortandad de salmones en cultivo en el extremo norte del Mar Interior de Chiloé y Seno de Reloncaví. Luego, a partir de la última semana de febrero, comenzó a manifestarse una floración del dinoflagelado tóxico Alexandrium catenella, impactando fuertemente a la Región de Los Lagos y alcanzando por primera vez a la Región de Los Ríos. Desde principio de abril se observaron, además, mortalidades de moluscos bivalvos, aves y peces en Chiloé y otras localidades de la Región de Los Lagos. Como consecuencia de la intensidad y extensión del fenómeno, y la aparente coocurrencia de las floraciones nocivas en la costa de Chiloé y el vertimiento de salmones en altamar, se generaron protestas sociales y ambientales en Chiloé que luego se extenderían a otras localidades de la Región de Los Lagos (Informe Final Comisión Marea Roja, Noviembre del 2016).

Con estos antecedentes hoy en día Chile atraviesa por un difícil momento, siendo uno de los países que más se ha visto perjudicado no solo por los altos impactos que ha traído consigo el cambio climático, sino también por la combinación de factores que han amplificando las consecuencias de este y que en el corto plazo han logrado escalar más allá de lo previsto, provocando un seria crisis socio ecológica a lo largo del territorio; como las inundaciones en el norte del país, mega incendios forestales en la zona centro sur y afloramientos de algas tóxicas en el sur de Chile. Estas últimas han ido en notable aumento, en relación al aumento de la contaminación del océano, si bien no existe una relación directa, el aumento ha sido registrado y con nefastas consecuencias. En los fiordos y canales de la Patagonia, lugares donde mayoritariamente la salmonicultura ha concentrado sus granjas, han sido los más perjudicados, no solo por la cantidad de nutrientes y antibióticos ingresados al sistema marino sino también por la gran cantidad de basura y plástico que desperdician en sus instalaciones, siendo su modo de producción de salmones el más contaminante del planeta. Hoy en día la comunidad científica global predice que los eventos de El NIÑO que vendrán serán con mayor frecuencia y con intensidades extremas debido principalmente al calentamiento global, teniendo consecuencias mucho más profundas de las conocidas.  Esta amplificación de factores sumado a la desregulación de las leyes ambientales en Chile son sin duda una bomba de tiempo que podría explotar en una catástrofe ambiental de mayores proporciones como las registradas el año 2015-2016 en Chiloé y Aysén.

Las conclusiones que podemos abordar son múltiples desde una perspectiva interdisciplinaria, sin embargo desde el área de las ciencias marinas se hace necesaria una concentración de esfuerzos hacia el mejor estudio y entendimiento de estos ecosistemas. Una mayor inversión tanto en programas de investigación como en infraestructura son necesarias tanto para realizar monitoreo y series de tiempo a largo plazo. Así desarrollar modelos predictivos, que puedan entregar las herramientas  necesarias que busquen informar y prevenir los escenarios que afrontaremos en los próximos 50 años. En base a una perspectiva amplia, promover y ampliar las líneas de investigación existentes y que apunten al levantamiento de información desde distintas áreas de la ciencia, que puedan ayudar a revertir y mitigar como también a tomar acciones concretas hacia la conservación de los recursos y el buen entendimiento del equilibrio que mantienen estos ecosistemas de forma saludable.

Referencias.

  • Arzul, Geneviève, et al. “Comparison of allelopathic properties in three toxic Alexandrium species.” Journal of experimental marine biology and ecology 232.2 (1999): 285-295.
  • Buschmann, Alejandro. Comisión Marea Roja. Diss. Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile, 2016.
  • Iriarte, J. L., R. A. Quiñones, and R. R. González. “Relationship between biomass and enzymatic activity of a bloom-forming dinoflagellate (Dinophyceae) in southern Chile (41 S): a field approach.” Journal of Plankton Research 27.2 (2005): 159-166.
  • Iriarte, J. L., González, H. E., & Nahuelhual, L. (2010). Patagonian fjord ecosystems in southern Chile as a highly vulnerable region: problems and needs. Ambio, 39(7), 463-466.
  • Haussermann, V., et al. “Gradual changes of benthic biodiversity in Comau fjord, Chilean Patagonia-Lateral observations over a decade of taxonomic research.” (2014).
  • Mayr, Christoph, et al. “Responses of nitrogen and carbon deposition rates in Comau Fjord (42 S, Southern Chile) to natural and anthropogenic impacts during the last century.” Continental Shelf Research 78 (2014): 29-38.
  • Niklitschek, Edwin, Andrés Ulloa, and Nicolo Gligo. “2. Trade liberalization, rural poverty and the environment: a case study of the forest and salmon sectors in Chile.” Vulnerable Places, Vulnerable People (2010): 14.
  • Werlinger, Camilo, Krisler Alveal, and Héctor Romo. Biología marina y oceanografía: conceptos y procesos. Consejo Nacional del Libro y la Lectura, 2004.
  • Vester, Heike, and Marc Timme. “Call for cooperation to contain damage by Chile’s salmon farms.” Nature 465.7300 (2010): 869.

 

Press release Graham Edgard Visit

Press release Graham Edgard Visit

From February 17th to 24 th Dr. Graham Edgar of the University of Tasmania and his working group of ten scientists from Australia, Finland, New Zealand, Canada and the United Kingdom held a workshop at the Huinay Scientific Field Station in northern Patagonia, Chile. These investigators seek to address how climate change affects the abundance of marine life around the world. They are targeting elevated water temperatures, effects on reef species, and the role of the El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) cycle.

In addition, Dr. Edgar revisited the Reef Life Survey sites he originally monitored in 2012. Reef Life Survey (RLS) is a worldwide citizen science program to monitor global marine biodiversity. Dr. Edgar previously used the RLS data in his investigation of the effectiveness of marine protected areas worldwide. The study, published in the renowned journal Nature, concluded that at least 4 of 5 key criteria need to be met for protected areas to have significant impact in comparison with unprotected waters: no-take area, well-enforced, large size (more than 100 sq. km), old (older 10 years), and isolated by deep water or sand.

The working group performed the nine transect dives for RLS with the staff of the Huinay station. Dives will continue to inform both regional (over the past seven years) and global studies of changing marine biodiversity. Throughout the week, scientists discussed findings, modeled data and outlined three future publications.

Researchers included Dr. Graham Edgar, Dr. Rick Stuart-Smith, Dr. Jemina Stuart-Smith, Dr. Ross Corkrey and Judy Corkrey from the University of Tasmania, Dr. Mike Burrows from the Scottish Association for Marine Science, Dr. Mark Costello, Katherine Kelly, and Lena Hartebrodt from University of Auckland, Dr. Laura Henriques Antao from University of Helsinki, and Dr. Amanda Bates from Memorial University of Newfoundland.

Visiting the Mother of Gods

Visiting the Mother of Gods

Figure 1: From Left to Right: Rodrigo Sanchez, Christoph Mayr, Lilian Reiss, Gunter Försterra, Aris Thomasberger, Luis Hernández Maldonado.

In January 2018 a team of six brave scientists from the Huinay Scientific Field Station embarked an adventurous expedition into the heart of the archipelago Madre de Dios (Mother of Gods Archipelago) situated in the province of Última Esperanza (Province of Last Hope) of the Region Magallanes and Chilean Antarctica.

The expedition group consisted of two teams, a terrestrial and a marine one, plus Huinay’s fearless captain Don Boris. The terrestrial team’s (Christoph and Lilian) mission was to collect calcareous sinter, a freshwater calcium carbonate deposit with well-developed lamination, as well as core samples of old trees in order to reconstruct the climate history of the area through stable isotope analysis.

The marine team`s (Fossi, Rodrigo and Aris) mission was to visit an experiment site in the narrow Copihue Channel (50°20’24.23″S, 75°22’42.51″W) were a recent mass mortality of the hydrocoral Errina antarctica is being investigated. After monitoring equipment installed on a prior Huinay expedition was reported missing, the team brought a full new set of instruments including multiple temperature logger, a conductivity meter, two current meter and one acoustic doppler current profiler that needed to be installed in the Channel.

After a 24 hours boat trip from Puerto Natales through the channels of the Magellanes Region, the group arrived at their destination and basecamp – the world’s southernmost limestone mine on the very isolated Guarello Island where accommodation, food and workspace was provided by IMOPAC, the mine operator.

Figure 2: World’s southernmost limestone mine on Guarello Island.

Shortly after arrival, the marine team started to unpack the expedition boxes and dive gear while the terrestrial team already started to explore the surrounding forests.

During the following ten days, ten dives were conducted in occasionally difficult conditions due to very strong and rapidly changing wind driven currents. The monitoring instruments were successfully deployed and pictures were taken of recruitment tiles installed in 2016. To the delight of the divers, multiple new recruits of the hydrocoral E.antarctica were spotted along the channel’s walls, some measuring about 25cm in diameter, after a mass mortality event eradicated the entire population some years ago.

Figure 3: Diver installing a current meter.

In September 2018 divers will head back to this remote area to retrieve the instruments and read out the data, revealing some more secrets of this incredibly interesting and unknown world and hopefully giving hints to what could have led to the sudden death of hydrocorals in the narrow channel.

Figure 5: New recruits of E.antarctica in the Copihue Channel.
Misfortunes Never Come Singly: An Expedition Full of the Unexpected

Misfortunes Never Come Singly: An Expedition Full of the Unexpected

In April and May 2018, divers and scientists from Huinay Scientific Field Station (HSFS) sailed to Canal Martinez and Canal Messier in Southern Patagonia where they carried out dozens of transect dives in depths ranging from 0m to 499m and discovered deep-sea sharks, chimaeras, coral banks and colourful sea fans.

Separated in two parts, the fourth expedition (HF37) of the year was the longest and most anticipated expedition of 2018 lasting for almost six weeks. The first part was dedicated to collect material for two long-term marine research projects that investigate how environmental components (or abiotic factors) affect the benthic community in three very unrelated fjord regions of Chilean Patagonia (see project here), and how the melting of glaciers affect coastal ecosystems (see project here) The second part of the expedition was carried out with the purpose of discovering new species in the Patagonian fjords and raising awareness about the beautiful wonders of Chilean Patagonia through SCUBA diving and deep sea exploration with a remote operated vehicle (ROV) (see project here).

Fig. 1. The team of Huinay sails through pristine parts of Chilean Patagonia on the sailboat Saoirse to reach the Martinez channel. Photos: Mette Schiønning

Part I:

Transect Dives

In order to reach the destination of the expedition, the group from Huinay teamed up with Keri Pashuk and Greg Landreth, owners of the sailboat Saoirse and long-term collaborators of the station. After days of travelling in the pristine and breath-taking fjords of Patagonia and meeting the captains of Saoirse in Puerto Eden, the SCUBA dive team finally reached Canal Martinez, where the first part of the expedition would take place (Fig. 1). D uring that following week, the dive team conducted more than 10 hours of transects in 0-20 m depth, covered what is equivalent to a 3 km horizontal stretch and collected more than 1000 transect photographs. which will be analysed by scientists from the Institute of Marine Sciences at Austral University of Chile  during the austral winter/spring 2018.

Stranded Teams in Isolated Patagonia

After completing the transect SCUBA dives, it was time to sail back to Puerto Eden to collect the remaining and newly arriving Huinay team, however, this was easier said than done. As the dive team laid anchor in Connor’s Cove to rest for the night, the propeller got stuck. In spite of great effort, underwater investigations of the propeller and intense pulling for several days, the propeller did not move a single inch. Meanwhile, things were not looking brighter for the arriving Huinay team either.

Defying all wind, weather and waves, the second group finally arrived at Connor’s Cove in the evening, after having spent two wet and cold days in rough sea on an artisanal fishing vessel while towing Noctiluca, the station’s research vessel equipped to operate the ROV. It was a series of unfortunate events, including a ferry collision with a rock resulting in team having to return to harbour, and wait for a replacement boat to Puerto Eden.

Part II:

ROV Dives and Underwater Footages 

Pleased to be reunited, the group set out the following day to embark the second part of the expedition: to explore the unexplored Canal Messier – the deepest channel in the world outside of Antarctica. But shortly after, while attempting to launch the ROV, the group was facing new challenges. A large amount of electrical discharges was emitted from a 100 kg heavy cable reel that was connected to the ROV, which consequently prohibited the team from continuing their research. Therefore, the team saw no other option but to return to Connor’s Cove in order to solve the problem. Working days and nights without completely solving the technical issue, including disassembling the reel with 600 m of cable, disconnecting all the cables to the ROV and making numerous satellite phone calls to a technician of the manufacturer, the team was once more prepared to test the underwater robot (Fig. 2).

Fig. 2. The Huinay team is working day and night to solve the technical issues. Photos: Mette Schiønning.

Equipped with rubber gloves, puffy survival suits and life jackets, the team successfully launched the ROV down to 250 m in the deepest part of Canal Messier, where they recorded interesting gorgonians, a group of soft corals also known as sea fans (Fig. 3). But as the team got ready to sample their interesting findings with the ROV’s manipulator arm in the deep, the thrusters failed and the team lost control of the robot. Forced to abort the ROV dive, the team found themselves back in the cove with malfunctioning thrusters.

At this point, considering the idea of discontinuing the expedition hardly mattered, as the ferry that was going to bring the team back to Puerto Montt had been delayed by a week.

So while the technical team had to deal with an additional issue, Vreni Häussermann and a scientific research assistant went SCUBA diving in the nearby vicinity to collect sea anemones for genetic studies and to take underwater footages of the picturesque marine environment in Canal Messier (Fig. 4).

Fig. 3. The team is preparing for a new ROV launch. Photos: Mette Schiønning

Fig. 4.  Hydrocorals (Errina antarctica) are often used as substratum by basket stars (Gorgonocephalus chilensis). Sea anemones (Metridium senile lobatum) are dominating in most shallow areas. Photos: Vreni Häussermann.

With a highly compromised ROV, the scientific team eventually managed to carry out two more ROV dives in Canal Messier, including a 499 m dive where they discovered deep-sea sharks, the closely related chimaera, precious coral banks and colourful sea fans. Although, the expedition did not proceed as expected, the Huinay team did not leave empty handed. They still managed to cover a large area through SCUBA diving and launched the ROV on a few locations that have never been explored before.

ith a highly compromised ROV, the scientific team eventually managed to carry out two more ROV dives in Canal Messier, including a 499 m dive where they discovered deep-sea sharks, the closely related chimaera, precious coral banks and colourful sea fans. Although, the expedition did not proceed as expected, the Huinay team did not leave empty handed. They still managed to cover a large area through SCUBA diving and launched the ROV on a few locations that have never been explored before.

Fig. 5. The Huinay team is closely monitoring the marine life and the bathymetry in the deep parts of Canal Messier. Photos: Mette Schiønning.

Take-Home Message from Vreni Häussermann: 

“The take-home message from this trip is unquestionably regardless of how well prepared you are for any expedition, Patagonia is and remains extremely challenging for scientific research. Its harsh climate, the limited days of decent weather, the intricate fjords and the travel time needed to get from a to b. These are only a fraction of all the factors that have to be taken into account in order to conduct marine research in Patagonia. However, this is also what makes this region so special. It is one of the last untouched areas on earth which reveals an incredible biodiversity and a multitude of animals in a pristine environment, which is important to protect so it can be explored and enjoyed by future generations to come.” 

The entire team from Huinay would like to express their sincere gratitude for the all the support received from Greg, Keri and Aliro from Puerto Eden and their great readiness and professionalism.

Pitipalena Fjord is a Paradise of Unexplored Gems and Treasures

Pitipalena Fjord is a Paradise of Unexplored Gems and Treasures

Fig. 1: View from the jetty at Añihue Marine Reserve.
Photo credit: Francisco Izquierdo.

In February, divers and scientists from Huinay Scientific Field Station successfully transected an underwater area longer than 1.5km, they discovered a remarkable coral bank on 60m depth, sampled interesting sea life in a marine lake and mapped large parts of the sea floor.

For the second time in a year, the scientific team of Huinay Scientific Field Station (HSFS) visited the Pitipalena fjord in Añihue, as a part of a larger inter-disciplinary marine project, involving scientists from all over the world, including Chile, Scotland and Germany. The purpose of the project is to assess the non-living components (abiotic factors) in the environment influencing living organisms in three different fjords in order to create a baseline for large-scale rapid assessments of benthic communities and to increase awareness on diversity of marine benthic assemblages of Chilean Patagonia.

Discovery of a deep-water coral bank. 
Shortly after the arrival at Añihue Marine Reserve, the team assembled the remote operated vehicle (ROV), a special-made underwater robot that can dive down to 500m depth (Fig. 1). It was also with this device during an exploration of the deeper parts of the fjord that the scientific team discovered the impressive coral bank. Vreni Häussermann, the Scientific Director of the field station, explains: “We are extremely thrilled to have discovered the deep-sea coral bank in such a shallow depth. Further research is definitely needed to investigate if there are more of these unknown wonders of nature out there.”

Exploration of the Pitipalena fjord.
During the week-long expedition, the team worked both night and day to keep their tight schedule. A fellow scientist and cartographer, with expertise in sea floor mapping, also known as bathymetry mapping, was covering large areas of the fjord 24 hours around the clock with a sonar to locate important habitats later to be explored by the ROV team. Whereas the deeper parts of the fjord were video transected by the ROV, the shallower depths were explored by a group of divers. On four different sites, clearly distinct from each other, divers conducted photo transects between 0 and 21 m depth to record the biodiversity and to understand the distribution of marine benthic fauna in the shallow region.

Fig. 2: The team is getting ready to launch the first dive with the station’s ROV in Pitipalena fjord. Photo credit: Mette Schiønning.

Santo Domingo lake
On one of the final days, the team also went to the marine lake Santo Domingo which is only connected through a small river to the ocean (Fig. 2). In the crystal clear water, the team sampled a number of extraordinary fauna to find out if the species differ from the species found in the ocean. “It is going to be very exciting to see if any new species have evolved within the lake. When we return to the station, we will start analysing the data to find answers to our many questions,” Vreni said.

Fig. 3: Drone image from Santo Domingo Lake. Photo credit: Francisco Izquierdo.

Fig. 4: (from left to right) A small colony of sea cucumbers, a jellyfish and sea anemone
Photo credit: Francisco Izquierdo.
The group of scientists cheerfully called the expedition a great success, who also wanted to take the opportunity to thank the entire team of Añihue Marine Reserve for their great help and support during their visit.

If you want to see more from this year´s expedition in Añihue, watch the following short video made by Francisco Izquierdo, an external assistant of Huinay, experienced diver and doctor.

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.

Jemma Wadham extracting the data from the sensors.

Anna Covey sampling the water from the river.

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.

error: Content is protected !!