After leaving Puerto Natales in the wee hours of the morning, Endeavour cruised back towards Kirke Narrows. At any other time than completely slack tide, this narrow channel of 150 meters has a huge current running through. It is imperative that ships passing through here get their timing right, as this precarious waterway causes whirlpools and outwashes running at 7 knots. Our fleet of Zodiacs decided to brave the waters before slack tide, cruising along the shoreline, enjoying the rich vegetation of plants like wild fuchsia, and South American fur seals porpoising through the water ahead of the Zodiacs. The climax of our excursion - watching the ship, graced with a backdrop of green vegetation, push firmly through the waters of the narrow.
This afternoon we arrived at a place called Evans Island, a place that would afford us the first opportunity of the trip to kayak!! Our yellow kayaks were lowered into the water, and the guests were shuttled out to the platform for an afternoon of peaceful bliss paddling through the black, yet clear, water, exploring the shoreline at their own pace.
What has been going on underneath this water we have been traveling through? Everyday on our Zodiac cruises, we are amazed at the clarity of the water, being able to see far down the kelp stipes, but still not quite discerning the bottom. Undersea Specialist Dennis Cornejo, and myself as dive buddy, put answers into inquisitive minds today, as we dove off of Evans Island. What an amazing environment! Down a steep rocky wall we went, falling slowly and letting it all sink in. The bottom was littered with different types of mussel shells, a graveyard for mother of pearl jewelry. The live muscles gathered together in massive bunches covering much of the rocky walls. Within the muscle beds, a place for hide and seek as nudibranches and fish can have a quiet moment for themselves, seeking refuge from vicious predators. However the muscles never have time to relax, and large predatory sea stars moved everywhere, just waiting to choose where to feast next.
The best surprise of the day was this spiny spider crab. With a face only a mother could love, and a tenacious disposition, this crab often ends up on dinner plates all over South America, as it comprises a large part of the fisheries in this part of the world.
Another expedition day in the Chilean Fjords has come and gone, and we can only imagine what tomorrow will bring.