Beagle Channel

Oct 20, 2017 - National Geographic Explorer

This morning we woke up in a beautiful fjord, one of many in the Cordillera Darwin on the north side of Beagle Channel. The sky was mostly overcast, which is pretty typical in this area, but with sprinkling and a fresh powering of snow on the mountains. At the end of the fjord, Seno Garibaldi, there was the spectacular Garibaldi Glacier with the fjord completely full of icy bits, like a giant margarita!  This is a very active tidewater glacier with a snout in the water feeling the tide. 

After breakfast we took to our fleet of Zodiacs to make a tour and guess what?  It stopped sprinkling, there was no wind, and it was fun to slowly plow through the bits of glacial ice! Every once and again there was a blast of sound from the front of the glacier, sometimes ice fell, and sometimes it was just ice cracking. I am asked if the sound is louder when the glacier calves to which I reply, “I don’t know, because folks in the Zodiac are making too many excited noises.”

In recent years, Garibaldi Glacier has been advancing. Our captain, Oliver Kruse, showed me on the chart that the terminus of the glacier is about three-tenths of a nautical mile further into the fjord than it was last year. That makes this one of the very few advancing glaciers in South America… it is not getting colder, but it might be getting wetter.

In the afternoon we visited another fjord and glacier system to the east, still in the Cordillera Darwin called Pia Glacier, in Bahia Pia. We enjoyed more Zodiac cruises as well as kayaking, and there were lots of different birds to see and photograph.  Just to keep things interesting, the kayakers charged back to the ship.

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About the Author

Dennis Cornejo


Dennis began scuba diving during the mid-1970s as part of a research project. At the time he was a research associate at the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum in Tucson, Arizona, studying the population of winter hibernating sea turtles.  What began as a scientific study soon became a conservation project that expanded to three species of sea turtles along the entire Pacific coast of Mexico.  This project received major funding from the World Wildlife Fund and was eventually taken over directly by that agency with Kim Clifton and Dennis Cornejo as co-principal investigators.

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