2023 Aquaculture in Chile Environmental Performance Project and its effects on site ecosystems field activities campaign completion
22 September, 2023

2023 Aquaculture in Chile Environmental Performance Project and its effects on site ecosystems field activities campaign completion

September 26th, 2023 Periodista Gabriela.Gutiérrez

Within Chilean Aquaculture Environmental Performance and its Impacts on Site Ecosystems project framework, a project belonging to the Environment Department based in Puerto Montt, the last part of field activities corresponding to the area comprised of Golfo Almirante Montt, located in the Commune of Natales, Magallanes Region was carried out.

On this occasion, for the first time environmental performance and oceanography project teams (project “Channels and Austral Fjords Oceanographic Processes Spatial and Temporal Variability Monitoring and Modeling”) from Putemún headquarters, Chiloé, came together in this sampling realization. Together they carried out support activities and operations on the vessel’s deck. This team was made up of marine biologists Johana Ojeda and Rodrigo Jaramillo, as well as oceanographer Marcela Toro and technical assistant Miguel Vergara. In addition, in the deck operations there was 3 crew members collaboration L/M “Don Antonio” of 34 TRG.

Almirante Montt Gulf Area Description

The Almirante Montt Gulf channel system, which extends from west to east for approximately 15 nautical miles, has its smallest width in a north-south direction, with a distance of 4 miles. Four important estuaries converge in this system, which play a fundamental role in the configuration and dynamics of this coastal region. These estuaries are:

Estero Ultima Esperanza: Located to the northeast, it is one of the most notable estuaries that join Golfo Almirante Montt. Its name evokes a sense of mystery and exploration, which is due to its rich history and its importance in the navigation and trade of the region.

Estero Obstrucción: On the south side of the gulf, the Estero Obstrucción intertwines with the canal system. Its name suggests the intricate nature of this area, which historically presented challenges to navigation due to its complex geography.

Poca Esperanza Estuary and Valdés Canal: Located to the southwest, the Poca Esperanza estuary connects with Almirante Montt Gulf through Valdés channel. This interconnection between estuary and canal adds a unique dimension to the area dynamics, influencing water and nutrients exchange.

Worsley Estuary: To the northwest of the gulf is Worsley Estuary, which contributes to this region water and nutrients flow. Its proximity to the sea and its role in the local ecology make it an important focal point for scientific research.

Kirke Channel: Navigation through this narrow channel that connects the area of the channels with Pacific Ocean waters is a challenging and technical navigation due to tides and currents which are estimated to normally reach 8 to 10 knots. maximum intensity. It should be remembered that the name of this channel comes from the first oceanographic surveys carried out in the area by the British Captain Pringle Stokes on the Beagle ship.

Cruise activities

On this occasion, a tour was carried out that included sampling at 38 points with CTD equipment and 19 sediment sample collection points using a van Veen dredge. These samplings are essential to understand the area chemical and biological dynamics, as well as to evaluate marine ecosystem’s health. Significantly, 11 specific points were dedicated to sediment prospecting, with the purpose of exploring previously less studied areas. An inspection of the meteorological station installed in Puerto Natales area was also carried out, which provides online information for the Chonos project.

These actions were carried out in compliance with both projects objectives, which have as one of their main focuses Almirante Montt Gulf chemical-biological conditions seasonal variability monitoring. Monitored variables, such as temperature, salinity, dissolved oxygen, nutrient concentration, macrofauna identification and other parameters, provide a comprehensive view of the changes that occur in the marine ecosystem.

Throughout the land and sea movement area, observations of Patagonian mammals and birds were made such as: guanacos (Lama guanicoe), rheas (Rhea pennata), caiquens (Chloephaga picta), foxes (Lycalopex culpaeus), armadillos (Chaetophractus villosus), flamingos (Phoenicopterus chilensis), Patagonian skunk (Conepatus humboldtii), condors (Vultur gryphus), quetros ducks (Tachyeres pteneres), southern dolphins (Lagenorhynchus australis), Magellanic penguins (Spheniscus magellanicus), carancas (Chloephaga hybrida), cormorants (Phalacrocorax magellanicus and Phalacrocorax brasilianus), South American tern (Sterna hirundinacea) and seagulls.

Despite climatic variabilities inherent to the area and challenges presented by marine environment, the activities were carried out as planned, within navigation safety framework, concluding successfully. This will provide valuable information for understanding and conservation of this important coastal ecosystem.

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