Update: Expedition to the Desventuradas Islands

Two weeks ago, we announced the latest and greatest National Geographic Pristine Seas Expedition to the Desventuradas Islands. Located 853 kilometers (530 miles) off the coast of Chile, the Desventuradas are one of the most mysterious and unknown places in the Eastern Pacific. Very little scientific information is known about this (essentially uninhabited) “blue spot” on the map. In fact, the area surrounding the Desventuradas Islands has never been filmed underwater. That is—until now.

Map courtesy the National Geographic Education MapMaker Interactive

Map courtesy the National Geographic Education
MapMaker Interactive

Have you been wondering what the National Geographic and Oceana Chile expedition team has been up to since we wrote our post, Forget White—We’re Seeing Blue? We know we have, and are excited to report that each expedition day has brought new discoveries. These small daily miracles bring us a little closer to understanding this isolated ecosystem and, as a result, the ocean as a whole.  Here are some exciting highlights:

February 8th

Setting off. Photograph by Enric Sala

Setting off.
Photograph by Enric Sala

The expedition begins its two-and-a-half day journey aboard their ship, Argo, to the Desventuradas Islands.

February 10th

The expedition completes the first dives EVER of San Ambrosio Island. Prior to this dive, underwater photos didn’t exist of this scenery. See a video of what the team saw, and read a first hand account here.

February 13th

"Brecas” surround the DeepSee submarine as Neil Gelinas films them.Photograph by Enric Sala

“Brecas” surround the DeepSee submarine as Neil Gelinas films them.
Photograph by Enric Sala

The expedition builds on the previous day and completes San Ambrosio Island’s first EVER submersible dive, going down to 138 meters (453 feet). They landed on a reef in the middle of a sandy bottom and documented many fish and invertebrate species, some of which are probably new to science.

February 14th

The mola mola that the team saw. Photograph by Alan Friedlander

The mola mola that the team saw.
Photograph by Alan Friedlander

The team had, what they describe as, “a special encounter” with a mola mola fish and some sea lions. These playful sea lions, or sea wolves as they are called, were as curious about the expedition members as the expedition members were about them!

February 16th

The science team surveyed the farthest western tip of San Ambrosio Island. Because of the geography of this area, the team hoped to find large specimens—they weren’t disappointed! The divers were eclipsed by the large fish seen there. Most fish witnessed were bigger than the people watching them.

February 19th

The team had their “best dive yet,” north of San Felix Island, witnessing new species and behavior unseen by science before.

The expedition at the Desventuradas Islands will continue into March 2013. Explore for yourself by becoming a part of the expedition. Follow @Enric_Sala and @NatGeoExplorers on Twitter and keep up with daily updates by reading the official expedition blog. With a start like this, who knows what Enric and his team will discover next!

Written by Samantha Zuhlke, National Geographic Education Programs

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