Protect the Marine Life in Chile | Flanders Marine Institute

Flanders Marine Institute

Platform for marine research

Protect the Marine Life in Chile

The coastal zone of Chile is one of the most productive systems in the world. Recent economic developments affect the traditional way of living in the often isolated coastal communities. Therefore, a diversity of local initiatives has been set up in the region to protect these fragile marine ecosystems.        

The fjords and channels in Southern Chile have been globally recognized as top priority for nature conservation. This is because they are home to a unique marine biodiversity as can be seen in this movie. The recognition of the worldwide importance of the area is the result of years of marine research efforts, in often very harsh environmental conditions and with limited means.


With your donation the crucial activities below can be realised:

Create a Network of Marine Reserves

One of the activities is concerned with the creation of a scientifically underpinned network of marine protected areas (MPA’s) in the feeding and breeding grounds of large marine animals, or along their migration routes. In 2015, the creation of two reserves in the Gulf of Corcovado (Chiloé Island, see map below) was approved because scientists discovered that blue whales go there every summer to raise their calves. The two reserves make up an area of about 110.000 hectares. A first step in the right direction!
Continuous research and monitoring in these MPA’s are important to scientifically underpin efficient measures developed for the protection of key species and their habitats. However, the means available to conduct research in this enormous and barely accessible area are still limited.

Towards this activity, researchers and volunteers, linked to the local university (Universidad Austral de Chile), are collecting valuable data about the presence of species and their habitats. VLIZ philanthropy invested, at the end of 2016, EUR 5675 to purchase photo equipment for these Chilean researchers. More specifically an SLR camera, attributes for a professional underwater camera and a drone.
These devices are necessary for monitoring marine biodiversity. High resolution photos allow for individual identification of the cetaceans. The underwater photos help determine the different marine species and community structure. The drone is used to investigate the density of marine mammals and their relative size. The equipment is successfully deployed during research cruises aboard the M / N Noctiluca in the fjords and canals of the Archipelago de los Chonos Aysén.

Promoting ‘best practices’ in the local economy

During the ‘90s, the aquaculture sector in the region experienced an enormous growth. Unfortunately, the farms are often in the feeding and breeding grounds of threatened populations of blue whales, Chilean dolphins, Peale’s dolphins, Burmeisters’ porpoises, sea otters and orca’s.
Therefore, a second activity is focusing on research for mitigating the negative effects and for scientifically underpinning new and alternative practices (ecotourism, small-scale fisheries and traditional aquaculture) adapted to the characteristics of the region and its people.

Towards this activity, researchers and volunteers are contributing to the education of local people, schools and technical universities. By using underwater recordings and observations (for example of the biodiversity richness, the benefits of biodiversity but also on entanglement of marine species in nets and cages) they strive to create a broader awareness or ‘ocean literacy’ amongst the local coastal communities.

Read more about the above objectives on this poster.