My recent travels took me to Patagonia, Chile to Chiloé, the largest island in the Chiloé Archipelago. My goal is to produce a documentary about an aspiring young girl interested in discovering the largest mammal on Earth, the blue whale. Currently I am editing all the footage taken during my trip. I hope to convey the importance of girls in science and women in conservation leadership roles, specifically to protect whales and their ocean homes.
The blue whale, scientifically referred to as balaenoptera musculus, the largest marine mammal growing to lengths of up to 100 ft. long and weighing as much as 150 tons.
Blue whales are mostly identified by their lateral dorsal pigmentation, unlike humpback whales that are predominantly identified by the underside of their fluke.
The Blue Whale typically dives less than 330 feet when feeding and can only stay submerged for 10 to 20 minutes, but is capable of diving as deep as 1,640 feet.
We departed Maui late at night and after 3 long flights we arrived at Santiago, the capital of Chile. A relatively short 1.5 hour connecting flight to the province of Puerto Mont, followed by a 60 km car ride to Pargua, followed by a 30 minute ferry crossing of the Chacao Channel to Chiloé. We finally arrived to the principal town of Ancud to pick up supplies. Paved roads turned into gravel and cell phone signals quickly began to fade. It was a pathway into the past, a place without time.
Puñihuil is a cove with a small fishing community that has steadily grown in tourism with penguin excursions where Magellan and the rare Humboldt penguins can be seen off the coast.
In the late 19th and early 20th century sheep farming expanded across the Patagonian grasslands making the southern regions of Argentina and Chile one of the worlds most productive.
The Churches of Chiloé are known for their architectural wonder because they are made entirely of native timber, including hinges and an extensive use of wood shingles.
Artisan fishing is practiced all over Chile’s 6,435 km long coastline and combines industrial techniques with pre-Hispanic traditions.
Artisan fishermen cultivate the Chilean black-lipped oyster. Small farms are seen outside most homes near water inlets. These oysters were harvested in front of me after visiting a small museum for the documentary.
Thanks to being an island Chiloé has evolved a rich biology that impressed even Charles Darwin who travelled through the archipelago for his research.
Chiloé has been internationally recognized by FAO as an Ingenious Agricultural Heritage site of the world for its agricultural culture, biodiversity and its traditional knowledge and practices.
Red-legged cormorant are among a variety of birds seen nesting on cliffs near the coast.
Our final destination was Punihuil, a small community on the west coast of Chiloé. Punihuil is a isolated, but popular, tourist destination famous for its offshore penguin colonies. It is the only place in the world where you see the Humboldt and the Magellanic penguins coexisting and nesting side by side.