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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.
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The expedition crew gathers for empanadas, a Chilean Navy tradition
By Enric Sala, National Geographic Fellow
Sharks are getting used to us. They do not swim away as soon as they see us as they had on prior days’ dives. And we’ve seen two sharks now with hooks in their mouths, which suggests that there is fishing going on around Salas y Gómez. Could that be the reason why sharks here are so wary of boats and people?
Today we also enjoyed a Chilean Navy tradition. Every Thursday they celebrate and eat empanadas on deck–empanadas filled with meat, egg, onions, and black olives.
The officers and crew of OPV Comandante Toro are extremely helpful and enthusiastic, an essential part of the expedition team. And I’ve never worked from a ship with so much space. We work from the helicopter hangar on the upper deck. Because there is no helicopter on board, the entire deck is available for our diving and scientific gear–which is a very good thing, since we brought lots of gear.
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The helicopter hangar aboard the OPV Comandante Toro
The sun set this evening with a gorgeous green flash, and soon afterward the sky was populated with millions of stars. Away from any source of light pollution, the Milky Way showed off its splendor. We’re all feeling lucky to be here!
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Sunset near Salas y Gómez Island
Photos by Ford Cochran
The science team will share frequent updates and media from the expedition, including photographs, videos and links to Google maps, here on the National Geographic News Watch blog. You can also follow the expedition on Google Earth by clicking on the blue ship icon located where the expedition begins near Easter Island, roughly 2,000 miles (3,300 km) northwest of Santiago, Chile. (Make sure the “Places” layer is turned on).
National Geographic and Oceana are members of Mission Blue
View all dispatches from the Salas y Gómez expedition here