Trash dump found in the pristine White Channel of Magallanes

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Glacier in the White Canal. Photo: Patagonia ConceptGlacier in the White Canal. Photo: Patagonia Concept
By Antonia González
Translated by Dawn Penso
A recent marine expedition led by CONAF, Chile's national park service, has discovered a micro landfill of trash in the White Channel, in the interior of the Kaweskar National Reserve in the Magallanes region. The team was in the zone to monitor water conditions at Fiordo de las Montañas (Mountains Fjord)–located 100 kilometers (62 miles) northeast of the touist town Puerto Natales–, detected waste that they warn is deteriorating vegetation and contaminating the coast. 
These areas are constantly being frequented by the CONAF team to monitor, among other things, malpractices by boats and ships in the zone, who are the main causes of these micro landfills.
Jovito González, the CONAF administrator of Kaweskar National Park, told Patagon Journal that there is a widespread custom of so-called "harbors of shelter." There, small boats station and protect themselves from inclimate weather before continuing on with their tasks. “Within this context they produce this accumulation of trash," he says.
The team found a pile of batteries, oil cans, jars of paint, clothing remains, water suits, plastics, food wrappings, glass bottles, remains of fish equipment, nylon bags, among other items. Trash that as well is shifting toward the marine bottom, said González.
“More worrisome is that this is in a place where one frequently obtains water to supply the minor boats that advance here,” he added. The waste was removed by the Conaf team and they are in conversations with the Chilean Navy about how to prevent the future disposal of waste in what had previously been relatively clean waters. 
Residues encountered by the expedition.Residues encountered by the expedition.
The expedition
In this first research expedition realized by CONAF in conjunction with the Center of Dynamic Investigation of Marine Ecosystems of High Latitudes (Centro IDEAL) of Austral University (UACh) and the General Water Office (DGA) of Chile's Ministry of Public Works, they are seeking to analyze the water conditions due to the thaw of the five main glaciers in the area, together with its oceanographic and biological characteristics.
"Important changes are expected among the fjord due to global climate change. Therefore, the idea is to determine points and areas where permanent monitoring may be carried out four times a year, to see the changes that may occur,” explains Jorge González, who is also a marine biologist.
Through the expedition they obtained temperature and salinity records of water columns and samples of phytoplankton and of water to analyze nutrients, according to experts from Centro IDEAL. “This type of activity is of great importance for the effective management of the region’s protected areas, above all to monitor aquatic ecosystems,” said González. 
The discovery of this illegal dump was part of CONAF's first oceanographic research expedition to the zone.The discovery of this illegal dump was part of CONAF's first oceanographic research expedition to the zone.



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