Two oceanographic monitoring systems installed off far southern Chile by the IDEAL Center allow deep-water measurements of physical, chemical, and biological characteristics.
In a pioneering winter campaign, Chilean scientists installed two oceanographic monitoring systems (moorings). One is in the Punta Santa Ana sector of the Magellan Strait and the other is at the mouth of Yendegaia Bay in the Beagle Channel. Over the course of a year, deep-water measurements will be collected at these moorings. The installation was done between 18 and 28 July, by a group of 17 researchers from the Research Center Dynamics for High Latitude Marine Ecosystems (IDEAL Center) of the Universidad Austral de Chile. This was the Center’s second oceanographic campaign.
Researchers from the Chilean Antarctic Institute (INACH), the Universidad de Concepción (UdeC), the Patagonian Ecosystems Research Center (CIEP), and the Austral Scientific Research Center (CADIC) in Argentina also participated in the campaign.
The moorings will collect information on deep-water temperatures as well as salinity and oxygen levels. In Yendegaia Bay, a sediment trap was also installed to measure flows of particulate matter throughout the year. These moorings will allow scientists to determine the seasonal variability of physical, chemical, and biological characteristics of the water masses in two areas of high scientific relevance in Chile’s Magallanes Region.
A meteorological station was also installed near the Punta Santa Ana mooring, in cooperation with the Magellan Strait Park. This station will establish the relationships between the atmosphere and occurrences in the water column.
“This expedition shows the commitment of the IDEAL Center to increase scientific knowledge of marine systems in the Magallanes region,” said Dr. Humberto González, director of the IDEAL Center.
The information obtained will help researchers understand the oceanographic dynamics of Chile’s southernmost seas.
Munida gregaria, the key link
During the first IDEAL Center campaign, conducted in October 2016, researchers found that Munida gregaria, a crustacean commonly known as channel shrimp, was a key species in the marine systems of the southern fjords and the Beagle Channel. During this campaign, scientists performed onboard studies to learn about the channel shrimp’s abundance and physiology as well as its role in the marine ecosystem.
“In the southern fjords, Munida is food for whales, fish, birds, and possibly other marine invertebrates, so it could play a role similar to krill in Antarctica,” concluded the expedition chief, Dr. Ricardo Giesecke.