In August 2021, a team of researchers from the IDEAL Center installed a monitoring system in the Yendegaia fjord that makes continuous measurements at various depths. Almost a year later, scientists managed to obtain unprecedented information on the marine ecosystems of the extreme south of the American continent
After 10 days of sailing aboard the “Marypaz II” vessel, a group of researchers from the Center for Dynamic Research of High Latitude Marine Ecosystems (IDEAL) of the Austral University of Chile (UACh), reached the Yendegaia fjord, south of the Magallanes and Chilean Antarctica region. The objective of the oceanographic campaign was to recover an anchorage that had been submerged for almost a year in the depths of the site.
The multidisciplinary team of scientists began the journey in Bahía Mansa, 54 kilometers south of Punta Arenas. After hours of navigation, the professionals arrived at the Beagle Channel. There they carried out the rescue of oceanographic sensors and a sediment trap installed in August 2021.
In addition, they carried out an oceanographic transect from the head to the mouth of the Yendegaia fjord, which considered four stations at five depth levels (0, 5, 10, 25 and 50 meters.) At the same time, particulate carbon and chlorophyll samples were taken, among other parameters.
“The objective of this anchorage is to develop time series of physical oceanographic variables (conductivity and temperature) and geochemical parameters such as the presence of carbon in the fjord’s water column,” explained Dr. Maximiliano Vergara, founder of the Southern Tech company and expedition leader.
Despite the difficulties of the winter season in the Magallanes Region, Vergara highlighted the success of the maneuver. “This is the only system that performs time series in depth that exists in the southern area of Patagonia, specifically in Tierra del Fuego. As a result, the information collected will serve as a basis for future investigations,” he added.
“We managed to rescue 24 jars that functioned for nine months as receptacles for various organisms and components present in the water column, such as carbon content and biological material,” said Carla Mellado, a marine biologist at the IDEAL Center.
Thanks to this monitoring system, scientists will be able to determine the seasonal variability of the physical, chemical and biological characteristics of the water masses in an area of great scientific relevance in the Magallanes Region.
The samples obtained in this expedition will be transferred to the UACh laboratories, in the city of Valdivia, for their subsequent analysis. After recovering the information from the oceanographic instruments, the objective of the researchers is to return during the summer of 2023 to continue monitoring the conditions of the fjord.