We continued our journey north along the coast of Chile. Last night we once again entered the open waters of the Pacific Ocean, and this morning we awoke riding the northward flowing Humboldt Current. In the lounge, Tato introduced us to the oceanography and biology of this distinctive and highly productive region, while outside the seabirds reflected the change of location.
In addition to the now familiar black-browed albatrosses, Wilson’s storm-petrels and Magellanic penguins of the south, today we saw several new species associated exclusively with this region.
Add the pronoun Peruvian to a species of pelican, diving petrel and booby, and this reflects in part the specialized composition of the Humboldt Current seabird community. There were also a number of albatrosses and petrels, among which were numerous pink-footed shearwaters (pictured), close to their island home of Isla Mocha.
If you were to ask most people to stick a pin in a map to indicate the location of Isla Mocha it is likely that they could not. This small island of about 12 square miles is about 20 miles off the coast of central Chile and is home to a few hundred people. However, if you were able to ask a pink-footed shearwater where Isla Mocha is - they would know. The island is home to the majority of the world population (about 50,000 birds) of this species.
We landed in the afternoon under bright skies and explored the island - the first time Lindblad Expeditions has been able to visit the island. By horse cart we were transported to the hills and hiked through a forest reserve, which is home to most of the pink-footed shearwaters in the world. Not that it was possible to see these birds on land, for they are both burrow nesters and nocturnal onshore, but as the Endeavour departed Isla Mocha and headed for the end of our journey in Talcahuano, they were seen in numbers offshore, gliding over the calm Pacific Ocean.