National Geographic Explorer-in-Residence Enric Sala is setting off on his first big expedition of the year: to explore the remote islands of Desventuradas, hundreds of miles off the coast of Chile. Follow his adventures throughout the next month.
Antofagasta. I laugh when I hear our American expedition team members pronounce the name of the city where we are. The city itself is tough, on a narrow coastal strip between the cold Pacific Ocean and the arid mountains. The steep, ochre slopes do not have any plants. It’s one of the driest places on Earth. Our taxi driver who took us from the airport to our boat said “It has not rained here in 10 years.”
Antofagasta is the port of departure of our current Pristine Seas expeditions. Our team of scientists and filmmakers, together with our partner Oceana Chile, are going to spend the next three weeks exploring the Desventuradas Islands (‘unfortunate’ in English), two small rocky specks 400 km off the coast of Chile. Why are we going? Because they might be one of the last pristine places left in the South American seas. We know more about the geology of the Moon than about the underwater world of the Desventuradas. We are fortunate that the Chilean Navy has authorized us to explore, survey, and film this mysterious world.
We will explore the Desventuradas underwater using state-of-the-art technology: close-circuit rebreathers that recycle the oxygen and allow us to dive without making bubbles, drop-cams to film the deep sea thousands of meters deep, and the DeepSee submarine, with an acrylic sphere that allows 360-degree vision to 400 meters depth. It’s going to be pure exploration and, we hope, discovery.
We cannot wait to sail off, but as usual, three of our bags have been lost by the airline, and we still need to procure some of the essentials for the expedition (such as dark chocolate) before departure. We’ve learned to be patient…
This expedition is supported by Blancpain and Davidoff Cool Water.