For two weeks in early March of 2017, the Waitt Foundation and Pristine Seas conducted a scientific expedition to Chile’s Juan Fernández archipelago, focusing on Alejandro Selkirk Island and making dives at several sites near Robinson Crusoe Islands as well. Our goal was to study the marine ecosystems of these oceanic islands and make recommendations to the government of Chile for their conservation and sustainable use. This expedition was a collaboration between the Waitt Foundation and National Geographic’s Pristine Seas.
The objective of the expedition was to explore the sea of Juan Fernández, specifically around Alejandro Selkirk Island. Our research methods included the use of SCUBA diving up to depths of 30 meters, and deployment of deep-drop cameras to depths of over 2,000 meters. We conducted 185 dives down to a depth of 112 feet and a total bottom time of 213 hours; made 24 drop cam deployments to a maximum depth of 5167 feet. We made 9 baited remote underwater viewer (BRUV) deployments into the water column giving us a total haul for the various underwater devices at close to 30 terabytes worth of data. National Geographic also conducted 34 drone flights. Another very successful collaboration with our good friends Enric Sala and his team at Pristine Seas.
On February 27, 2018, Chile’s President Michelle Bachelet signed into law protections for nearly 450,000 square miles of water—an area roughly the size of Texas, California and West Virginia combined. We were proud and privileged to be part of this effort.