A Journey into an Abyss
It’s March 16th, 2016 and we are ready to begin expedition “Huinay Fiordos 28”, the 28th expedition of the Fundación Huinay (Huinay Scientific Field Station). From the shore of Puerto Natales, Chile, we can see the 8m vessel, the Exploradora Patagonia II, that will take us to Guarello. Guarello is a remote limestone mine owned by Imopac (www.imopac.cl) in the Madre de Dios Archipelago, 45 km from our current location. The mine and neighboring living quarters have been there for over 55 years and usually host 20-30 workers, we are fortunate enough to be able to use the mine as our base camp while we set up our project in a channel nearby. We will travel from Puerto Natales for 28 straight hours before we reach Guarello. In our expedition group we are eight people in total; Günter Försterra is the expedition leader with two assistants as part of his dive team, Francine Beaujot and Rodrigo Sanchez. Joining us are two geographers from the University of München, two biological oceanographers from the Universidad Austral de Chile/ Fundación Cequa (www.cequa.cl), and one captain. For the next ten days, as a team we will navigate the limestone channels and investigate an unexplained hydrocoral mass mortality event discovered in 2013.