February 8-18, 2016
Christy Gast was invited to join the Wildlife Conservation Society of Chile’s 7th Marine Expedition to the Admiralty Sound as artist-in-residence. Along with two veterinarians, three biologists, a ranger from Karukinka Natural Park and four sailors, she group set out from Bahía Mansa on the Marypaz II on February 8, 2016. The group navigated through the fjords and channels of Tierra del Fuego to conduct a survey of elephant seals and albatross in Bahía Jackson at the terminus of Seno Almirantazgo. They conducted a census of elephant seals on the beaches of Bahía Jackson and tagged two elephant seals(Rockwell and Kent), who will transmit their movements via satellite so that scientists might study their paths through the sea. They attempted to count and tag the nesting colony of albatross on Islote Albatross, but learned that, due to the presence of minks, none of the albatross born this season had survived. They encountered a leopard seal in Seno Brooks, and many ostione (scallop) fishermen in Seno Parry. Gast led a census of marine plastic on the beach at Bahía Jackson in an attempt to discover how much plastic is on the beach and where it came from. She shot videos of the process of tagging elephant seals, and much underwater video.
Due to the warming climate, the waters of Tierra del Fuego and the Southern Ocean receive more and more boat traffic, both commerce and tourism. The government of Chile is promoting tourism in southern Tierra del Fuego, and with the completion of the highway to Caleta Maria, more tourists are arriving to Seno Almirantazgo by land and sea. In addition, Seno Parry, connected to Seno Almirantazgo, was recently opened for commercial fishing. The goal of this expedition was to discover how the animals are using these waters–how and where they live, where they move, and when–in order to advocate for conservation.
Thanks to Wildlife Conservation Chile