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November 4, 2013

Discovering Desventuradas

You’ve probably never heard of the Desventuradas – two tiny, remote islands off the Coast of Chile. But these specks of land in a vast ocean harbor one of the most pristine marine environments on the planet. In this excerpt from “Discovering Desventuradas,” published in the recent issue of Oceana magazine, Oceana’s Emily Fisher recounts Oceana’s expedition to explore the underwater world of these fascinating islands. 

More than 500 miles off the coast of Chile, acros from the parched Atacama Desert, the Desventuradas Islands breach the Pacific Ocean. The Desventuradas – which translates to “the unfortunate islands” – are visited by only a handful of lobster fishermen and Chilean Naval officers every year. The seas around them have remained unexplored, until now.

In February, Oceana and National Geographic launched a joint expedition to the Desventuradas, which is comprised of the islands of San Félix and San Ambrosio. With a team of all-star scientists and the use of cutting-edge technology, the expedition was the first to explore whatis considered one of the last potentially pristine marine environments left in South America.

“Thanks to this expedition, the Desventuradas Islands went from being the least known corner of Chile to one of the most studied,” said Alex Munoz, executive director of Oceana in Chile. “This new scientific information will allow us to determine their ecological value as well as the best way to protect this incredible ecosystem.”

It took nearly a year to plan the expedition, and during that time, the team had very little background information to work with. They had a report from 1875 about the island of San Ambrosio, but they couldn’t find a single underwater photo of the Desventuradas – they had no idea what they were going to find. “I felt like I was parachuting in, at night, over unknown territory,” National Geographic Explorer-in-Residence Enric Sala wrote on the expedition blog.

Continue reading at Oceana magazine, or learn more about the expedition here