The Beacon

Blog Tags: Alexander Selkirk

What Oceana is Helping to Protect in Chile

After the Chilean senate voted last month to ban bottom trawling on all 118 of its seamounts, after years of advocacy by Oceana, we thought it was an appropriate time to remind our supporters just what we've been fighting to protect.

Above is video shot by Oceana in 2011 off of the uninhabited Alexander Selkirk Island in the remote Juan Fernandez Island chain 400 miles off of Chile. The island, named for an 18th century shipwreck survivor who likely inspired Robinson Crusoe, is part of a volcanic archipelago surrounded by seamounts, or underwater mountain ranges that support a staggering variety of marine life.

Until now the Juan Fernandez archipelago was open to bottom trawling, an extremely destructive method of fishing which reduces the sort of complex habitat seen in this video to the appearance of "ploughed fields" according to a recent study in the journal Nature.

Oceana, along with our partners at National Geographic, have made a number of visits to the area in recent years to document this previously unseen abundance of life, and was instrumental in Chile's recent vote to close these wonders to the ravages of bottom trawling.

Learn more about these distant marvels and about Oceana's work in South America.

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Video: Chile’s Underwater Trove

Earlier this year, Oceana Chile sailed to far-flung Alexander Selkirk Island, named for the Scottish sailor who spent four years as a castaway on the island, probably inspiring the story of Robinson Crusoe.

The island is one of three that comprise the Juan Fernández Archipelago, which sits more than 400 miles off the coast of Chile.

Check out the stunning footage they came back with:


As you can see, the expedition team found a surprising abundance and diversity of species around the island, including lobsters and many kinds of fish. While the archipelago has been compared to the Galápagos Islands for its rich biodiversity, it lacks conservation measures against destructive fishing. As a result, Oceana has been working for several years with the fishing communities of Juan Fernández to protect their exceptional marine resources.

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