National Geographic and Oceana screen documentary on pristine chilean islands

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January 31, 2014
Madrid
Contact:
Marta Madina ( mmadina@oceana.org )




Santiago, Chile, January 30, 2014 – The National Geographic documentary film “Desventuradas: The Wildest Chile,” was screened last night in Santiago, Chile, in partnership with Oceana. The documentary is the result of an unprecedented scientific expedition led by National Geographic’s Pristine Seas Project and Oceana to the Chilean islands of San Ambrosio and San Félix, better known as the Desventuradas islands. The expedition documented for the first time the marine ecosystems of one of the most remote and unexplored places in the world.

“Diving and exploring the deep sea of the Desventuradas was like traveling to a forgotten planet. We found a marine fauna unique and irreplaceable, in pristine condition,” said Pristine Seas Director and National Geographic Explorer-in-Residence Enric Sala.

Alex Muñoz, Oceana’s Executive Director, added, “This expedition provided new scientific information that could have hardly been obtained by other means. Based on the information gathered, it is clear that there is an obvious need to protect the Desventuradas islands, a project we are working on along with the neighboring island community of Juan Fernández and the government.”

The 30-minute film features the expedition’s adventures and the biologic importance of the waters surrounding the Desventuradas islands. These waters are in a pristine state due to rare human intervention. The high percentage of endemic species reported during the expedition as well as the abundance of fish highlight this place as a biodiversity “hotspot.”

From February to March 2013, a group of prominent international and national scientists used innovative technology to document and study the marine biodiversity surrounding San Ambrosio island. The high-technology submarine DeepSee was used in Chile for the first time. The submarine can dive up to 450 meters with three passengers on board, maintaining a 360-degree view thanks to its acrylic dome. The sightings included a Juan Fernández lobster measuring more than a meter and weighing close to 8 kilograms and abundant schools of seriola fish.

National Geographic and Oceana have elaborated a proposal for the conservation of the area — specifically a proposal to create a marine park surrounding San Félix and San Ambrosio islands, excluding the areas in which the artisanal fisheries of Juan Fernández fish. National Geographic and Oceana have emphasized the need to incorporate the local community of Juan Fernández in the decision-making process of creating a marine protected area, since the community has been fishing in this area for more than 100 years.

“The ecologic value of the marine biodiversity is extraordinary at a global level, and human intervention at the moment is insignificant.  This gives the government the opportunity to act now to ensure the conservation of one of the few pristine places left in the ocean,” concluded Muñoz.

The expedition to the Desventuradas islands was the second collaboration between National Geographic and Oceana. They collaborated, together with the Chilean Navy, on a similar expedition in February 2011 to Salas y Gomez in Easter Island. The expeditions have been supported by Pristine Seas sponsors Blancpain and Davidoff Cool Water.

Note: National Geographic’s Pristine Seas Project is an exploration, research and media effort to find, survey and help protect the last wild places in the ocean. Oceana has achieved important advances in the conservation of marine ecosystems, such as the approval of a law that bans bottom trawling on all the seamounts in Chile as well as a law that bans shark finning. After conducting an exploratory expedition to Salas y Gómez in March 2010, the two organizations proposed the creation of the Salas y Gómez marine park, Motu Motiro Hiva. It  was declared a marine protected area by Chilean President Sebastián Piñera in September 2010 and covers an area of 150,000 square km.