We start our new project in Chile in December 2010, where you can participate on a 10 day sailing cruise through the remote fjords and channels of Aysen in Southern Patagonia. Here is the program:
Scientific Tourism – a journey combining sailing with the observation of marine life and their environment in Patagonian Chile.
Heike Vester is a marine Biologist from Germany who studies vocal behavior of Pilot whales, Orcas and Bottlenose dolphins. She owns and runs Ocean Sounds, a private organization based in Norway that is dedicated to the research of marine animals, public education, and conservation of the marine environment. www.ocean-sounds.com
Heike is passionate about oceans and marine wildlife and has dedicated herself to understanding them so that she can better help protect the fjords and oceans that have become her home. She spends her time traveling between Norway and Chile collecting identification data and sound recordings for her research. She is associated with the Max Planck Institute (http://www.nld.ds.mpg.de/) and the Faculty of Biology (http://www.cog-ethol.de/) of the University in Göttingen in Germany, where her PhD research focuses on the structure and evolution of language in Killer and Pilot whales.
ExplorAysen is an Aysén-based travel company which offers unique travel experiences involving scientific exploration, participation in science based programs, and adventures with a high level of scientific content.
ExplorAysen is affiliated with the Project for Scientific Tourism in Patagonia (PTCP), which is part of the Center for Research in Patagonian Ecosystems (CIEP). The project´s strategic mission within CIEP is to facilitate regional development, strengthen research, and promote knowledge transfer.
During a 10 day journey, you will have the opportunity to:
- discover the fjords of Aysén and the culture of local seashore and island communities,
- participate and support scientific research involving marine wildlife, and
- learn or practice sailing around snow peaked fjords, untouched islands and open Pacific Ocean.
“Agartha II” is a 16 meter Sailboat, with 4 double cabins, a dining area, 2 bathrooms with hot showers and a kitchen. She has ample deck space and is geared with the latest navigation and safety equipment. You will be accompanied by a captain and crew, our resident scientist and an English speaking guide.
Upon arrival at the Balmaceda Airport, you will be met by your guide and be driven to Puyuhuapi, a small town founded in 1935 by German immigrants and surrounded by a spectacular landscape of native forests and enormous ferns. The indigenous name Puyuhuapi means “place of Puyes”. The Puye is a species of fish that has long been sought after by fishing lovers. The main attraction of the village is its unique architectural heritage; most houses are built using native timber in a style which reflects a combination of German heritage and the architectural typical of the island of Chiloe. In Puyuhuapi, you will meet the sailing crew and scientist, settle on board the Agartha II, enjoy a walk in town and finish the day with a team dinner on the yacht.
After a nice breakfast we’ll set sail through the Puyuhuapi Channel, a fjord of glacial origin with abrupt, jagged shores and covered by dense forest towards a safe anchorage on Magdalena Island. During the 5-6 hour sail you will be introduced to safety and hazards on board, basic sailing terminology, roles and rules and have some time to get your sea legs.
We continue our sail towards Puerto Gaviota, a 90 person fishing community with one local school serving 15 children, a local church, a medical post and about 30 houses.
Here we will enjoy a local meal cooked by Senora Giovana who will share her house for a talk and slide show presentation on the ongoing scientific work in the region and the scientific support we will provide during the next few days.
We will learn about the different sea mammals that are living in the area, typical behavior and ways of recognizing them. Our scientist will bring awareness to the ecological dangers currently faced within the communities of marine wildlife and the Aysén ecosystems in general. You will learn about the impact of Salmon farms and other sources of marine pollution and have a chance to share the experiences and expectations of the scientific and conservation community.
We begin with an early morning sail towards the Tysnes Islands, three small rocky islands in the middle of the Moraleda Channel, populated by bird and seal colonies. Here you will get your first, hands on, photo identification practice, population counting and behavior observation.
After setting up marine mammal observation watches and sailing teams, we’ll sail though the Ninualac Channel towards Isla Kent. Each crew member will participate in observation and navigation practices.
We will anchor at Isla Kent, where hundreds of years ago, indigenous canoe tribes lived and depended on seals and whales as a source of food and sustenance.
Today, we set sail for Bahia Aventura, a large shallow bay, open to the Pacific Ocean. Our main goal will be to reach the continental shelf, where depths drop from 50 meters to 200 meters or more. This change in ocean profundity results in dramatically higher food density for marine wildlife populations. Large baleen whales, such as Sei whales are often seen feeding in these shallow waters. We will also set up the Hydrophone and start listening for sounds of Blue whales, Pilot whales, Bottlenose dolphins and other marine mammals.
During the sail, you’ll get hands on practice with sailing, compass steering, tacking, jibing, wind direction and navigation. In the evening, we´ll anchor at Isla Lemu.
The next two days will consist of sailing around Adventure Bay. Depending on weather and wind, we may sail towards Isla Guamblin or Isla Ipun, Isla Conejo or as far as Isla Anna Pink. Our priority will be to assist our resident scientist in her research on whales, Orcas and dolphins, taking sound recordings and contributing to the ongoing library of photo identification; all of which helps with determining population sizes and behavior.
A typical day will consist of an early breakfast and setting sail at 9 am. We will sail until 6 pm, taking turns watching out for sea life, navigating and sailing. When close to whales or dolphins, each team member will have a task, which might include photographing, filming, recording, taking notes and GPS points, or helping to maneuver the sail boat.
If weather is too rough to sail out to the open ocean we’ll sail around the islands, where Chilean and Peale’s dolphins are usually sighted. We may take a kayak trip or look for marine fossils, visit beaches and surely go through lengthy debates on how to help protect the ocean from waste, garbage and over fishing.
Today, we start our return sail through the channels towards Isla Madgalena, passing by seals and bird colonies and observing dolphins.
Around mid day, we will arrive in Puerto Cisnes, a bigger fishing village halfway between Puerto Gaviota and Puyuhuapi. We will be met by a bus which will transport us to Coyhaique, the capital of Aysén. Final night in a comfortable hostel.
Transfers will meet you at your hostel to transport you to the Balmaceda airport.
Cost per person (based on a group of 5) 3500 US$
Cost per person (based on a group of 4) 4200 US$
All inclusive from pick up at airport on day 1 to drop off on day 10 except dinner in Coyhaique on day 9.
and here are some pictures of our last research trips: