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Salas y Gómez Expedition: An Exceptional Mission

Comandante Andres Rodrigo, commanding officer of the Comandante Toro, shares his thoughts on the Chilean Navy’s first patrol of the new marine park surrounding Salas y Gómez and on hosting a civilian expedition team aboard his ship. Chilean Navy Comandante Andres Rodrigo scans monitors on the bridge of the OPV Comandante Toro. By Ford Cochran…

Salas y Gómez Expedition: Locating an Island Via Satellite

Marine ecologists use a new satellite image of Salas y Gómez and existing imagery of Easter Island to plan their dives and plot their data–and to correct long-standing cartographic errors in the placement of the former island. Alan Friedlander imports a high-resolution satellite image of Salas y Gómez into the GIS on his laptop and…

Salas y Gómez Expedition: Enric Sala Answers Your Questions

Marine ecologist and National Geographic Fellow Enric Sala takes a break from diving around Salas y Gómez Island to answer your questions. Are you guys taking necessary precautions so as not to affect the marine life in any way? Yes absolutely. Our objective is to study the natural behavior of marine life, so we do…

Salas y Gómez Expedition: Marine Protection for Rapa Nui

Oceana’s Alex Muñoz Wilson and National Geographic’s Enric Sala met this afternoon with Rapa Nui community representatives on Easter Island to discuss their ambition to create a marine protected area off the island’s only town, Hanga Roa. In time, such a park might restore some of the abundance recalled by long-time Easter Island residents and…

Salas y Gómez Expedition: Last Day in the Marine Park

Today was our last day at Salas y Gómez before returning to Easter Island. We have spent only six days at this little island but already it feels like home. We first dived here wondering what its underwater world was like; now we leave feeling part of it. A rainbow greets the dive team at…

Salas y Gómez Expedition: To Motu Motira Hiva

For days, we’ve dived around Salas y Gómez and stood on deck, staring at its rocky, surf-swept contours. Much as we wanted to explore it above the waterline, a landing looked reckless, if not impossible. Michel Garcia had done it before, years ago, and thought it could be done again. He found a way. The…

Salas y Gómez Expedition: How to Tag a Shark

Colleagues and marine biologists Alan Friedlander and Jim Beets of the University of Hawaii have brought satellite tags to track the wanderings of Salas y Gómez’s Galapagos sharks. Before they can tag them, they have to catch them, a days-long undertaking that requires teamwork, experience, patience, chum, quick reflexes–and a little luck. (Kids, don’t try…

Salas y Gómez: The Need for Protection

The Salas y Gómez expedition team awoke this morning to find a commercial fishing boat with lines in the water in sight of the Chilean Navy’s patrol ship–no more than a mile or two from the island and well within the marine park’s no-take zone. Chilean sailors boarded the boat and found illegally caught yellowfin…

Salas y Gómez Expedition: Sharks, Stars, and Empanadas

From a Chilean Navy ship just off the remote Salas y Gómez Island in the South Pacific, marine ecologist and National Geographic Fellow Enric Sala reports that the sharks are becoming less timid as they grow accustomed to multiple visits daily from expedition team divers. The expedition crew gathers for empanadas, a Chilean Navy tradition…

Salas y Gómez Expedition: Dropcams Scan the Depths

Eric Berkenpas with National Geographic’s Remote Imaging team has brought along three dropcams–glass spheres with lights and video cameras inside designed to descend to the bottom, film, and return to the surface. Their purpose on this trip–to record deep-water creatures and environments near Salas y Gómez. I spoke with Eric about how the cameras work,…

Salas y Gómez Expedition: The Sunken Cathedral

The team continues to explore at Salas y Gómez, including diving at a spectacular site south of the island where the reef evokes a gothic cathedral. Lobsters and coral abound, but big sharks and other large fish are less prevalent than expected–suggesting something may have happened here to reduce their numbers. Waves crashing against rocks…

Salas y Gómez: Tiny Speck of Land in a Vast Ocean

After a 20-hour crossing, we arrive at the tiny, rocky speck of land that is Salas y Gómez Island. We drop cameras in transparent spheres to probe the depths, don masks, tanks and fins for our first dive into the waters of Chile’s remote and spectacular new marine park. Salas y Gómez Island By Enric…

One Man Down, We Set Out for Salas y Gómez

Aboard the Chilean Navy vessel Comandante Toro, the expedition team sets out from Easter Island for the storied Salas y Gómez Island. Before departing, we lose legendary underwater cameraman Manu San Félix to–of all things–a broken toe! Manu resting his broken toe By Enric Sala Today is an exciting and sad day. Our underwater cameraman,…

A Rapa Nui Welcome

Alex Muñoz Wilson, Executive Director of Oceana in Chile, discusses the encouraging meetings he and National Geographic Fellow Enric Sala have had with Rapa Nui officials at the outset of the expedition, as well as the extraordinary work they’re doing with the Chilean Navy. Chilean Navy vessel Comandante Toro By Alex Muñoz Wilson Yesterday we…

Easter Island: Where Are the Fish?

Marine ecologist and National Geographic Fellow Enric Sala reports that during his initial dives at Easter Island, he saw some of the healthiest coral communities anywhere, but practically no fish. Corals fluorish beneath the clear blue water off Easter Island, but the team saw no lobsters and no large fish on Enric Sala’s first day…