It is our second day in Las Cruces Chile and I am writing from our office at ECIM which has a beautiful view overlooking the ocean. We just got back from a tour of potential dive sites shown to us by Randy, the DSO here at the marine lab. We stopped at 3 sites: Algarrobo, Punta de Tracla, and El Quisco. Punta de Tracla is a fairly well protected cove that seems to be perfect for deploying Pedro’s gametophyte cultures (as baits for potential pathogens) and for collection dives. Conditions for diving have worsened the past few days and next week’s forecast is less than ideal so we need a dive site that is protected from wave action. At El Quisco we checked out some of the kelp that had washed up on shore. There were large mats of giant kelp (Macrocystis sp.), which is abundant off the central coast of Chile. Durvillaea antarctica, another species of kelp, had also washed up on shore. With its leathery fronds, Durvillaea is impressively resistant to breakage and tightly held to its substrate. Randy’s attempts to tear it with his hands were unsuccessful and he finally used his mouth to rip open the plant. Inside it is filled with air pockets that help it float, explaining it’s the cushiony feeling when you squish it between your fingers. When we looked at the underside of its holdfast we could see that when this plant had been dislodged it actually took with it the barnacles and rocks it was attached to.
Frithjof, Randy and myself donned our snorkel gear and tested out the Chilean waters to collect Macrocystis. The visibility was much better than I expected considering the strong winds and large swell over the past few days. We collected a few fronds and brought them back to the lab in preparation for the uptake experiments we will start this weekend. We have enough material to keep us busy for the next few days and will hopefully be able to dive early next week!
Pedro and Frithjof at ECIM
Macrocystis washed ashore- El Quisco
air pockets of Durvillaea
Holdfast of Durvillaea with substrate still attached
Punta de Tracla
Me, Frithjof, and Randy getting ready to snorkel at El Quisco