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December 29, 2021

by Nicolas Garcia

Chilean scientists studying organisms in one of the most remote places on earth urge regional leaders to step up their efforts to combat climate change.

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An expedition recently postponed by a year due to the coronavirus pandemic aimed to investigate harmful organisms and their influence on climate change.

Chile’s Magallanes region – at the southern tip of South America, where the Atlantic and Pacific meet – is known as “the end of the world” and stretches from Punta Arenas through the Magallanes Strait to the Beagle Channel.

The scientists on board the oceanographic research vessel Cabo de Hornos sailed through peak-lined straits past glaciers and ascending ones Birds and focused on the water, which has a lower acid, salt and calcium content than other seas and oceans, especially in their shallowest parts.

Scientists believe that the conditions found in the water in the coming decades will occur in other parts of the world as the effects of climate change increase.

“The regional mitigation and adaptation plans a n climate change is out of date in terms of environmental events, “Jose Luis Iriarte, who led the expedition, told AFP.

The scientific mission paid particular attention to” red tides “- harmful algal blooms that can color the sea red .

They were detected for the first time half a century ago in the Magallanes region and have since been responsible for the deaths of 23 people and poisoning more than 200.

“We do not know how these organisms and microorganisms in particular affect them Effects react, “said Iriarte.

The expedition stopped at 14 locations, each time taking water samples at different levels to a depth of 200 meters with one device, a rosette.

Another device was used to take soil samples taken, sometimes at a depth of more than 300 meters.

From the highest point of the boat, the marine biologist Rodrigo Hucke, one of 19 scientists on the expedition, spent hours in the water surface searched.

When he spotted a distant whale, he gave the signal and then jumped into a small motorboat to get as close as possible to the huge mammal to collect its feces with the aim of feeding it to change.

Hucke says there has been a lack of government action in the past with regard to the oceans, which cover 70 percent of the earth’s surface.

He hopes the next UN climate change conference – COP27 in Egypt – represents a real global change in the management of the oceans.

“All of this must change in 2022 and a concrete decision must be made in order to have a profound policy of changing the way how we humans do things to advance, “said Hucke.

He fears that one day this region could become” one of the last bastions of biodiversity on earth “.

After the nine-day mission, it was the turn of Time to go back to the lab return to analyze the information gathered.

“I think we are the voice of what nature cannot say,” said Wilson Castillo, a biochemistry student who was the youngest member of the expedition at the age of 24 .

© 2021 AFP

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