Perhaps the most perplexing aspect of this event is that many of the stranded whales were found in fjords and inlets, often at their very heads, furthest from the sea.  Not only do these sites not fit with the known habitats of these oceanic species, but it seems highly unlikely that they could have drifted there from more open waters.  Fjords come in a wide variety of forms, but are usually long, thin bodies of water.  They often have deep, glacially-scoured basins with one or more narrow or shallow constrictions.  Surface water is relatively fresh, from inflowing rivers, and tends to flow seaward, flushing out any floating objects.  Heavier sea water flows in at depth beneath this surface layer. This means that the nature of the water within a fjord is highly dependent on the amount of river water that enters it and the ability of water to pass the constrictions.   To understand better these aspects we will be measuring water properties on transects along these fjords and into coastal waters.  This will help us answer questions about the fate of nutrients, whether these fjords could support algal blooms, and whether the whales entered them in pursuit of food, or were likely feeding in nearby coastal waters.

Puerto Eden: Mad dash from boat to boat to boat

Yesterday afternoon, the whole team arrived safely and smoothly to Saoirse after spending two nights aboard the sunny Navimag. Now, we are moments from hoisting anchor and beginning the trek back across the Golfo de Penas.

Disembarking in Puerto Eden is always an exciting experience. When the Navimag enters the small bay of Puerto Eden, there is no dock for passengers to get off on; there is no wharf with which to offload equipment. Instead, the barge simply lowers its bombay doors, and dozens of open, wooden boats come zooming and puttering out from all over the clustered seaside community.

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Like canoes to Captain Cook.  –Photo by Katie McConnell


Immediately there is a frenzy of people carrying cargo to and fro, and boats jostling for position. Imagine us trying to offload half a container’s worth of food and equipment!

Vamos vamos chiquillos! –Photo by Katie McConnell



We are very grateful to Aliro who came with the Yepayek, boat of the CONAF. After taking everything out of the container, we were able to load everything onto the Yepayek and go directly to the Saoirse, finally united with Keri, Greg and Alex.

No podimos haber cumplido todo sin la ayuda del CONAF… gracias! –Foto by Katie McConnell
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Just a small mountain of a few things –Video still taken from Keri-Lee Pashuk


In a mad rush we moved all the cargo once again, finally to its final destination with the Saoirse.

Saoirse & Greg
Greg on the Saoirse. Saoirse means “Freedom” in Gaelic –Photo by Keri Lee Pashuk



With all of the boxes of food and equipment, soon we were left barely enough space to even move! We spent the next 4 hours unpacking and storing away everything.

One of the most impressive things about living on a sailboat are the clever ways things are put away. Everything is tidy, neat and efficient. On Saoirse, food is magically stowed away underneath all of the floorboards, walls and seats. Everything has a place, and there is always a way to make more space by organizing more efficiently.

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Anita, Seba and Katie breaking it down –Video still taken from Keri Lee Pashuk

As of time of writing, everything inside the sailboat and on deck has been put away and tied down for travel. Outside, ropes attaching metal boxes to the deck are receiving their last tugs. Inside, leftover coffee cups from breakfast are dried and placed behind locking cabinets. The stove has been unhinged, and is ready to swing with the rocking of Saoirse.

Today we will head north, up Canal Messier, towards the mouth of Golfo de Penas. Just to travel the 90 nautical miles to the entrance of the Golfo takes about 15 hours in good weather, and there we will regroup and stage for the crossing to the north side of Golfo de Penas (an area called Golfo Tres Montes). From the southern entrance to the Golfo, it takes about 10 hours in good weather to cover the 60 nautical miles to the northern peninsula.

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Although the climate is extremely unpredictable, it is still so important to respect weather forecasts and keep a sharp eye on the horizon. Captains Greg and Keri are well seasoned sailors with worldwide experience including multiple Antarctic expeditions, so we are proud to be denizens of the highest safety standards.

Wish us luck, and hasta luego Puerto Eden 🙂

Cheers, Katie




All aboard the Navimag!

 Ready to embark on the Navimag. From L-R: Fernanda, Sebastián, Anita, Franco, Katie 

The infamously terrible weather in Golfo de Penas is not just a tale from the past. During its recent journey to Puerto Montt, the Eden ferry was delayed a full day because of high surf, encountering waves up to 7-9m! As our onboard guide said during a safety briefing, crossing the Golfo de Penas “No es una broma!” (Is not a joke!)

We were supposed to ship out last night at 10pm, and then today at 2pm. Now, we even are delayed six more hours. But this is Patagonia, which runs on its own time. 

For now, we are happy to be aboard the Navimag, and grateful to have finished packing and organizing a half-container’s worth of supplies and equipment! There seems to be only a small storm on the horizon, so hopefully we will have calm seas for the first of our four crossings in the Golfo.

This is also whale season for the region, and we will be watching closely to make our first entries into the Natural Events Log.

Until next time, Katie

Photo from stormsurf.com

Last minute food purchases, a literal boat-load!

Photo via @macdreconnell on Instagram, words by Katie

No matter how prepared you may feel for expedition, the final days before embarking are always hectic! Yesterday we spent all afternoon inside the supermarket making the final preparations for the voyage. Lest we forget the most important part… Food! 6 full shopping carts, packed into 30 cardboard boxes– we are crossing our fingers that our 150 eggs survive the trip across the Golfo.

All boxes and extra equipment are packed into a container, deep inside the bowels of the grand Navimag. Anita, Fernanda, Franco, Seba and myself are all aboard, excited to finally unite with Keri, Greg, Alex and Pichi in Puerto Eden. With good weather, we should arrive in 2.5 days.

Signing off until then,


Welcome! to HF27: Golfo de Penas 2

National Geographic
Aerial photography by Carolina S. Gutstein

In May 2015 a Huinay Fiordos (HF) Expedition to Golfo de Penas, Chile,  discovered the first observations of what would become the largest mass whale stranding in known history. After further investigation we know that there are at least 337 whales included in this mass mortality event.

Now, a newly formed team of specialists is returning to the whales to find out what happened.

Link to National Geographic Article

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