The last wild places of the sea are disappearing. Very few people will see that pristine places, with incomparable beauty, safe from the impact of man.
In 2010 together with Oceana and the Chilean Navy, we made an expedition to the island of Salas and Gómez under the leadership of Enric Sala and Alex Muñoz.
By National Geographic - Documentary "Wicked Islands: The Wildest Chile"
"The abundance of marine life we encountered was extraordinary. We present our scientific results to the President of Chile, Sebastián Piñera, who decided to protect this treasure of nature in the largest Marine Reserve of the American continent: Motu Motiro Hiva Marine Park (created on October 6, 2010, with an extension of 150 kilometers squares)
After the success of Salas and Gómez we search the world for other wild places to discover other islands with the potential to meet pristine and unprotected islands. It was then that we found San Felix and San Ambrosio, the Desventuradas Islands, located 900 kilometers from the Chilean coast. We found it incredible that Chile could have more virgin places !!
Again National Geographic and Oceana mounted an expedition in February 2013.
We went with very little information, without having found underwater images.
... But what we found there, exceeded our expectations ...
In Antofagasta we prepared our ship with a group of scientists from Chile, the United States and Spain. Alex Muñoz, vice president of Oceana has led the most important changes to marine conservation. Our team, National Geographic brought special cameras to explore the ocean.
Our destination was San Ambrosio: An uninhabited island a thousand kilometers from Antofagasta. If these places were easy to visit, they would not be wild.
How many islands are left in the world? How much time do we have to save them?
We embark with open minds to the surprises that these islands can reveal us. And with optimism because Chile has proven to be a leading country in marine conservation. This was our opportunity to explore, to investigate and to verify if these islands really are pristine.
The first immersion in the water is always the most important. And this was no exception.
We went down ... the heart was going to 100 per hour.
The visibility was unique. We could see more than 70 meters. We soon realized that we had been in a special place: Pristino.
The diversity and abundance of marine life we observed impressed us. Around us everything was life in movement.
And at the end of the dive we had a surprise: The sea lion Juan Fernandez. Do you know what this is? This species was thought extinct more than 100 years ago. Its presence in San Ambrosio gave us a sign of hope !! ... Although we only saw 5 of them throughout the expedition. But without protection, its extinction would be almost certain.
It is in those moments when we feel connected with the marine nature. Full of emotion ... all very colorful !. After having seen all that, we were impatient to launch the submarine.
With the dive tanks we could go down to 50 or 60 meters ... but much remains to be discovered a few hundred meters deep.
The acrylic bubble of the submarine was so clear that I had to touch it to see if it existed ... everything was visible, but everything! At 100 meters, curious fish surrounded us ... the largest number of jureles I've seen swimming out of their caves, hundreds of deep sharks, huge Juan Fernandez lobsters, 7 kilos! Solitary or group. It's one of the biggest lobsters I've ever seen!
At 300 meters I saw what I had never seen ... a virgin population of dwarf lobsters with the greatest abundance I have ever reported.
Down in the deep blue, it seemed that we were leaving the sea and entering a world apart, dark ... at 300 meters, a tiger shark from the sand, in the depths we find an incomparable diversity. Of the new species we find, at least 10 appear to be new to science. What we discovered in Salas and Gómez was a marine ecosystem that other countries would dream of having.
How many species have not yet been discovered here? How many will disappear if they are not protected?
When we landed, we always analyze the videos of the species found at sea. But this time, our surprise was greater. Almost everything is new, we have to invent names for these species that seem to be new to science. It's like finding two new species of monkeys in South America ...
We knew, without a doubt, that the Wretched Islands are so intact, that they are a treasure trove of wild life that needs to be protected.
Our objective was to explore and collect data to inform the Chilean authorities of the intact and wild that their islands are. We discovered that the biomass of fish is almost twice as much as the marine park created by the Chilean Government of Salas y Gómez. "
Knowing that there are countries like Chile with leaders and local communities that know what is at stake and are willing to act, gives us hope for these wild places, so that they can survive ... so that they do not disappear.
By: National Geographic.