Time to test the time lapse


Still from a Time Lapse series: The soupy frozen sea in front of Puerto Eden after an exceptionally cold night. (c) Katie McConnell 2016

After all the chaos of last minute expedition purchases and logistics, boarding the Navimag and arriving to tranquil Puerto Eden was a great relief. Although we were busy packing Saoirse and preparing for departure during the day, it was a perfect time to finally begin testing out the Trail Cameras and make sure they are all set to go before being installed for 6 months in Golfo de Penas.


Still from a time lapse series: Valentina and I are marking and putting batteries and SD cards in all 17 cameras. As you can see from the thermometer we city-slickers weren’t too good at getting the fire in the stove going! (c) Katie McConnell

Learning a lot!

By testing the cameras, I was able to see some potential issues and now have the chance to troubleshoot before final installation.


Still from a Time Lapse: Morning dew fogs the lens at the Pto. Eden seaside. For short-term shots, an oxygen activated hand warmer places near the lens might be enough to keep the dew away.   (c) Katie McConnell



Here comes the sun! Turns out I might not want to have the camera facing into the sunrise or sunset… (c) Katie McConnell 2016




…however, the sun quickly dried up all the dew, leaving the lens clear again. (c) Katie McConnell 2016


One of the best things about these trail cameras is their Time Lapse capabilities. An attractive component of Time Lapse is the illusion of speeding up time and observing progress on a different scale. Unfortunately,  I don’t have the internet capabilities to upload short video clips right now, but when I return in a little over a month I am going to try and upload some short and interesting clips.

These cameras will provide new insights into the fate of large inputs of newly available organic nutrients in a terrestrial/intertidal ecosystem, descriptions of the stages and rates of decomposition, and, with luck, help to create the first identification record of cetaceans in the Golfo de Penas region.


Time lapse camera test captures the team testing the CTD on Saoirse (c) Katie McConnell 2016



Starry skies in Puerto Eden


May 1, 2016. A rare cloudless night over the tiny Patagonian pueblo of Puerto Eden, Chile. The mast of Saoirse can be seen at the bottom-left corner of the photo. (c) Katie McConnell




Thank you Navimag Ferries!


Thank you to the generous and excellent team on the Navimag Ferry, Eden, for kindly and amicably supporting our research with the transport of people and equipment to and from Puerto Montt, Puerto Natales, and Puerto Eden. Without the Navimag, these expeditions would be virtually impossible. We love you and hope you have a restful winter season!


Puerto Eden Here We Come!

Saoirse in Puerto Eden

Archival Photo – Saoirse awaits the arrival of the new team for the continuation of the Patagonia Projects – Whale Study. (c) Keri-Lee Pashuk 2016



We are nearly ready to go again to return to the Golfo de Tres Montes for round two of the whale mortality studies. This time around we have a new scientific team, charged with revisiting the fiords where the whales lie , both to repeat some of the studies to see how things have changed over the months since the February trip, and to begin some exciting new studies based on what we observed at the close of that expedition.  We plan to augment our data and image gathering capability  with the use of both time lapse cameras, sound recordings and a quadcopter.  Stay tuned! Meantime Saoirse is eagerly awaiting our return, tied in its web of lines attached to two huge anchors and six shorelines. She has happily weathered several storms there over the last few months in this fashion, under the watchful eye of  Aliro Vargas Traimonte and family. Our many thanks go to them for keeping her safe, for their enthusiasm for the project and for the many centolla dinners enjoyed by Greg while securing the boat over the rest period! — Greg, Punta Arenas April 25, 2016

Project Supporters – Thank you Pike!

Thank you to Pike for personally hand delivering 7 new time lapse cameras, batteries and SD cards from the United States to Chile! Pike literally brought an entire extra duffle bag full of stuff for the May expedition, including two cans of chipotle peppers. Why? Because he’s the man.


Pike Pike Pike, we love Pike

Well, there’s a good 15 days left on the Kickstarter! That’s great! Keep up the stoke as this project continues gaining momentum. Thanks for your continued support, and if you haven’t yet – follow us!

Support Patagonia Projects!


Kickstarter has endorsed us as a “Project We Love” Photo (c) Katie McConnell 2015, Estero Slight

This May, Patagonia Projects will return to Golfo do Penas to continue investigations on the Sei whale mass mortality event. During this expedition, we will install time lapse cameras to monitor the decomposition of the whales, and observe how they are recycled into the Patagonian ecosystem.

Check out our brief Kickstarter Campaign Video, and read more about the project: http://kck.st/1PtP3N1

Direct video link:




UPDATE: April 9, 2016

Wahoo! This Kickstarter was funded in just five days by an incredible flood of support from people all over the globe.

With the extra fundraising, we are now able to make a higher quality short documentary, and are in the midst of developing a small bioacoustics branch! Please continue to share our video, as every dollar is a step forward towards a multi-faceted, interactive, and ongoing project. Thank you for helping to bring awareness to the pristine and abundant life of Golfo de Penas, and highlighting the need for its conservation.







Expedition HF27: Initial findings and speculation

Equipo Saoirse.jpg

Group shot in front of the Tempanos Glacier. Clockwise from top left: Sebastián, Franco, Greg, Keri, Ana, Katie, Fernanda y Alex, Fiordo Tempano (c) Keri-Lee Pashuk

We are excited to have returned safely from a very successful expedition to Golfo de Penas. The final count is in, and Expedition HF27 has reeled in a grand total of 1,051 samples!

After arriving to Puerto Montt, we presented all samples to Chilean authorities for inventory and revision, and now we are able to distribute samples to their respective specialists and laboratories for analysis. We are very excited to see results from analyses for stable isotopes, trace elements, Paralytic Shellfish Poisoning (PSP), phytoplankton abundance and species richness, virology, oceanographic nutrients and gasses, and DNA. The resulting information will not only provide insights into the mass mortality event of the Sei whales, but also their general life histories and, most importantly, the marine and terrestrial environment of Golfo de Penas overall.


Ana and Vreni open up boxes of samples for revision, 7 March 2016

Here is the breakdown of sample totals:


  • Nutrients: 182
  • Gasses 370
  • Plankton 90



  • Munida packets: 3
  • Mussels packets:5
  • Stable Isotopes (plants, earth): 137
  • PSP tests: 25


  • Necropsy: 138
  • DNA : 35
  • Baleen: 21


While still keeping in mind the unclear seasonality, residence time and patchiness of Harmful Algae Bloom (marea roja) events in Golfo de Penas, it must be noted that we received 19 negative results of Paralytic Shellfish Poisoning (PSP) tests from all around the entire Golfo. 11 of these negative results come from Phytoplankton samples, 6 come from mussels and 2 come from Munida samples. One of these negative resulting Munida samples came from the duodenum (an organ just below the stomach along the digestive tract) of a necropsied whale.

We did receive some ambiguously positive results from our field PSP tests. These three samples come from Phytoplankton near the head of Seno Newman, where the water was a bright iodine-like color, and plankton tows brought up a large quantity of filamentous green algae and thousands of very small amphipod and shrimp-like creatures (sizes where <5mm). However, repeat sampling three days later resulted in a negative test. Laboratory qualitative, quantitative and chemical analysis will provide more detailed insights in the future. For more information, please check back for a more detailed report under Project, Phytoplankton on this blog.

These initial findings, combined with observations of at least 2 large pods of orcas attacking Sei whales (see Keri’s post and Greg’s post), and the appearance of many newly dead Sei whales along beaches in areas where orcas are present and PSP is not, leads us to begin to shift our research focus as we look towards our return to these sites in May. Some immediate questions that arise are (1) Could it be that orcas are responsible for all, or the majority, of the 337 whales’ deaths reported from last year ?(2) How many new whales will we find in May ? (3) What is the scope of the orca-baleen whale interaction in Golfo de Penas and Chilean Patagonia? (4) Is there connectivity between other regions? (5) Did red tide really play a role in this event? How much?

These are just a few questions that we are doing our best to prepare for over the next two months. And in the meantime, we will be working on compiling our findings from this expedition, especially the observed orca and Sei whale behavior, into a succinct report to be widely communicated.

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Seba, Ana, Katie, Franco and Alex look to the orcas and sei whale in the distance (c) Keri-Lee Pashuk 2016