The audiovisual piece, headed by the IDEAL Center, aims to educate and publicize how this phenomenon occurs in the southern sea.

As an opportunity to disseminate interdisciplinary research on Harmful Algal Blooms in Patagonia, the documentary “Toxin Hunters” emerged, headed by the Center for Dynamic Research of High Latitude Marine Ecosystems (IDEAL) of the Austral University of Chile (UACh), under the audiovisual direction of Diego Nahuelhuén and the scientific direction of oceanographer José Luis Iriarte.

Harmful Algal Blooms (HABs), commonly called “red tide,” are a natural phenomenon that produces the exponential increase of microalgae, causing a reddish, green or brown discoloration in the oceans. The fjords of Patagonia have historically been considered highly vulnerable to them.

The filming portrays in 25 minutes the most complete expedition that has been made in Chile to study this phenomenon. The campaign was carried out on board the scientific ship Cabo de Hornos, belonging to the Chilean Navy, and convened 24 Chilean and foreign scientists from various disciplines, who embarked with the aim of detecting new toxins in the southern marine system, as well as learning about the environmental factors of its distribution.

According to José Luis Iriarte, a researcher at the IDEAL Center and an academic at the UACh Institute of Aquaculture, “we had the idea of making a good quality documentary, seeing an opportunity to disseminate interdisciplinary research on Harmful Algal Blooms in Patagonia, a relevant issue for Magallanes.”

“Our intention was to show the different ways of studying these phenomena and that the methodologies were explained by the researchers themselves, in addition to making the environment in which these events occur known: The interaction between water, ice and water. It was a special occasion to unite landscape and research in an extreme natural laboratory,” adds the researcher.

Bringing science to the community

Regarding the relevance of the study of this phenomenon in the area, Iriarte explains that “historically the Magallanes region has been a place of red tide events, which has spread towards the northern region of Patagonia in an accelerated manner. Knowing the environmental characteristics of the occurrence of these events is important to understand them and increase the probabilities of predicting them.”

“With ‘Toxin Hunters’ we want society to know nature in terms of the environment and understand why it is so important to carry out collaborative research between institutions. This documentary has a strong educational component for future generations of scientists facing a scenario of global change,” he concluded. The audiovisual piece is available on the YouTube channel of the IDEAL Center and you can see it here.