In the ocean off of the park’s coast, the kelp forests of southern Chile are some of the healthiest on Earth. The Kawésqar National Reserve is home to extensive areas of giant kelp as well as shallow water colonies of cold-water corals. The seafloor communities associated with the region’s channels and continental fjords form a unique ecosystem, one that is extremely important to the functioning of the entire region.
Map by Sam Guilford, NGS staff
In partnership with the indigenous Yagan and Kawéskar communities, the Pristine Seas team documented the natural diversity of the region and its species. During the expedition, the team assessed the impacts of salmon farming and the ecosystem’s resilience to climate change.
In an effort to accurately measure the health of the ecosystem over time, the team also revisited a selection of some of the stations surveyed by marine ecologist Paul Dayton in 1972. In-situ quantitative surveys by divers will be paired with analysis of satellite imagery to evaluate how giant kelp forest coverage has changed through time under the present climate crisis.