I’ve been back home in Seattle for a couple months now, and I’m starting to adjust back to speaking English and the idea of autumn in November. I imagine that spring must be starting to creep in down south on Isla Navarino, and as much as I am enjoying the coffee and civilization here, part of me wishes that I could be there to see it.
I spent the end of 2006 on the island assisting with the University of North Texas writing course. They spent a few weeks rampaging around Puerto Williams and its environs, journals in hand, had lectures on Darwin at the top of mountains, ate limpets, and read Shakespeare to each other for hours in the forest. Despite the limpets and a two night backpacking trip, none of the students or instructors perished and we celebrated New Years with a bonfire on the shores of the Beagle Channel.
After the UNT course flew back to Texas and things got back to as normal as they ever get that close to Cape Horn, I left for a few weeks to explore Torres del Paine and then came back to Navarino for a few more months of fickle weather and birds. Rina Charlin and I continued mist netting every month, and in February and March we were able to band birds at another site a ways up the coast from town as well. We caught several hummingbirds at that site in March, which was extremely cool. Also in March I began to work seriously on a paper about the autecology of the fío-fío, which has now been accepted by the Anales del Instituto de la Patagonia. I also continued volunteering with Elke monitoring goose and duck nests on the coast, which was not only scientifically valuable but also lots of fun as we often came upon nests full of fluffy chicks or eggs in the process of hatching. Elke also traps and tags mink in the summer, but I seemed to act as a bad luck charm as the traps remained mink free whenever I checked traps with her.
Towards the end of March I hiked the five day circuit through the Dientes, Navarino’s mountain chain, and miraculously managed not to kill myself or even get (very) lost. It was pretty spectacular, what with the views of Cape Horn and the vividly colored fall foliage and jagged mountain peaks. Rina and I also took a day trip on the monthly ferry to Puerto Toro, which is the world’s southernmost permanent settlement and consists of fewer than forty people who are in turn almost outnumbered by fishing boats. We went there to distribute some of the Cape Horn Biosphere Reserve calendars produced by Omora, and had quite a successful day.
And then, finally, as all things must come to an end, I left the island and Omora in mid April on the overnight ferry to Punta Arenas, travelling through the most remote and beautiful landscapes I have ever seen, and after a few more months of shiftless wandering I made my way back home.
The work conducted by scientists in the Cape Horn Biosphere Reserve is getting broader attention than ever these days in the major scientific journals of ecology and conservation. In the upcoming issue of Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment, you will be able to check out a new article written by Dr. Ricardo Rozzi and others that challenges the scientific community to “change the lenses” through which biodiversity is viewed.
Co-author, Dr. Christopher Anderson (OSARA president) points out that “in this article we use the case of the surprising diveristy of mosses, lichens and liverworts (bryophytes) in Cape Horn to show how we can be blind (or not have the right lenses) to even perceive the most diverse organisms around us. While Cape Horn lacks great diversity in mammals and trees, it is truly another ‘Amazon’ when it comes to the ‘miniature forests’.
However, the invitation these scientists make is to explore and discover unseen aspects of our natural world, in order to value, conserve and use them. This is the work that the scientists of the Cape Horn Biosphere Reserve are committed to and for which OSARA has the stated mission to support.
For a reprint of the article, please contact us!
Since 2004, OSARA together with the University of North Texas and the Omora Park have been searching for the appropriate way to achieve the construction of a field station in Cape Horn. Various people have been involved in this effort, whose complexity has required a slow, but steady march to arrive our goal.
We are, therefore, pleased to announce that in October, OSARA joined a coalition of organizations to create the Cape Horn Field Station. The new cosortium is lead in Chile by the Institute of Ecology and Biodiversity together with the University of Magallanes and the Omora Park and coordinated in the United States by the Univeristy of North Texas with the participation of various other universities and the Center for Environmental Philosophy.
This new team is now applying for funds from the Chilean government that will supplment the IEB’s current budget by $1 million dollars US per year for 10 years. The IEB has in the past two years taken a leadership role in managing the Omora Park as a long-term ecological research site, and these new new funds specifically will be used for infrastructure in the IEB’s three LTER sites, which also include Fray Jorge National Park (semi-arid ecoregion) and Senda Darwin Biological Station (Valdivian rainforest ecoregion).
OSARA is priviledged to be invited to participate in this initiative. In this way, our small effort is being re-enforced by a strong collaboration with organizations that provide at the same time a foundation, and also a projection for our joint projects.
Thanks to those who have helped with their donation of time, effort and money to help coalese this consotrium. We will be reporting on the progress of this initiative as time goes on.
UNT student Caroline Saunders participated in 2006-2007 in the first UNT-OSARA study abroad course, carried out at the Omora Park under the direction of former OSARA education coordinator Dr. Kurt Heidinger.
Now, Caroline’s photographic work has been awarded BEST IN SHOW in the Hot Shots from Hot Spots Photo Competition. The award winning photo was entitled “Reflections in a Windblown Tree”, and according to Caroline included an image of the course professor “reflecting in a windblown tree on the Beagle Channel. To the left, one of many Chilean cows. This tree (and specific spot) was my favorite area of all the country we visited.”
Dr. Heidinger’s response to the awarding winning photo of himself was “Hey! I always wanted wanted to be famous! Congratulations, Caroline! You are certainly a talented photographer.”
For more, visit Caroline’s website: http://web.mac.com/sanders.caroline/iWeb/Chile/Home.html