06 February 2016

Having traveled very little in Chile, we did not know that parts of the central coast are extremely populated... and not with dense marine fauna, but with humans.

But, hey, if you can't avoid the crowds, you might as well join in the fun! That means you get your little umbrella (which you can rent!) and find your spot, even if its in the third, fourth, or fifth row back. Bring your ceviche and tons of sugary soda, and voila, a regular chilean day at the beach. Basically its Margaritaville and the metro at rush hour all wrapped into one sandy package. 

Really, we tried to avoid the crazy beach towns, but with sample sites every 20km stretching north and south from Valparaiso, remoteness was not always an option. As some have said, we did some nice transects for sampling piure and for sampling chilean social life. I would say that from the mansions in Zapallar to the crowded beaches of Quisco to the tiny town of Tauco, we saw it all. 

got some time to kill while the rest of your team is sampling? pop up some shade and drink a soda!

fish market near Vina

only a true star can rock the wetsuit overalls

05 February 2016

Snorkeling in ports and cutting up slimy creatures on the back of your truck is generally a good way to get attention.

I am very sad that I didn't get a picture of all of the people that we talked to along our trip. There were gnarly fishermen that gave us tips, wrinkly old villagers that gripped at us, and heaps of curious and confused onlookers. Apparently, its not everyday that a piure hunter comes to your neighborhood.

The photos shown here are from the less famous side of Zapallar, the mansion-strewn beach town, getaway for the rich and famous. Unlike most other people there, we weren't drinking pisco sours in an infinity pool, but we did very much enjoy a swim in the clean little port and met some very helpful members of the artisanal fishing union. Two thumbs up for Zapallar!

took a stroll through the fish market!

everyone being silly while getting ready... there's just something about neoprene...

can you see our little safety float? snorkeling for piure...

great bird shots by Erwan!

letting Pablo and Vale do the work while we goof off!

02 February 2016

We arrived to our northernmost site early on the morning of the 17th. We found Pichidangui to be a quiet beach town with a nice little port for artisanal fisheries. Full of energy and a bit of anxiety with the start of the trip, we quickly descended upon the fish market to ask local fishermen if they knew the whereabouts of a few piure. Much to our discontent, we were told that all of the ascidians sold at the market were imported from large aquaculture industry several hundred kilometers away.

This left us with no other option than to get into the cold water and try to find the beasts on our own. Luckily, though, before getting into the water, we spotted a dive shop. Who better to ask than thems that spends many hours below the water's surface! "Dear Divemaster, might you be able to tell us where we might find some piures?" With some hemming and hawing and consulting with the boss, we were reluctantly given an invaluable piece of information... Look on boat ropes.  Shallow, easy to access with only a snorkel, boat ropes would be our new target, because as it turns out, the little piures love to bioaccumulate on anchor lines! Hip hip hooray! Site one = success

sampling pears would be so much easier!

marine mammals hanging around giving a good show

a face only a mother could love
photo credits: 2, 5, 7 taken by dear Erwan!

31 January 2016

3300km later... we made it back home safely. 

We passed through temperate jungles, plantations of pine, rows and rows of grapes and other crops. We then sped by Santiago, and into the wild yellow desert. With mountains all around us, we headed for the coast where we would stay for the next two weeks. Traversing much of Chile's western border with the great Pacific, our target of interest was to be found on the rocky shores lining so much the coast. 

More stories to come...

21 January 2016

Out of office message: We're on a Piure hunt. Will return at the end of the month.

We left Valdivia on the 16th, and since that time we've collected several hundred of the smelliest beasts that roam the sea. Pyura chilensis is an ascidian (sea squirt) that, while pungent, is readily eaten by Chileans and other crazy people. As a local fishery, we hope to better understand how connected are distant populations. Do Valdivian piures produce babies that repopulate stocks farther north? As such, for two weeks we are out on the road in search of piure. We pester fishermen, we snorkel in murky ports, we dive in algae forests, we put tiny pieces of tissue into tubes, we drink a lot of beer, we watch the sunset. All for the piure. 

See you in a few weeks with reports of the trip.

We think we should ask Escudo to sponsor us.

Guess who's working with us?? Los Frenchies! Erwan and Vale moved to Valdivia! Now they get to wash wetsuits and label tubes too!

Not such a bad job...

11 January 2016

Life on the river.

A few weeks ago we borrowed one of our friend's kayaks so that I could go out with Pablo in his new vessel! We put in down at the dock behind our house and paddled out into our neighborhood river. We glided along so silently, the black necked swans swopped past us, I imagined the sea lions that were swimming below us. We crossed the river to the Punucapa side to hang out on the little beach, enjoy a snack, and take in the gorgeous river. Sometimes the beauty of our surroundings seems unreal. I have to remind myself what lies just outside our doorstep.