Where the Elephants Roam

September 18, 2017

Chile has announced plans to create a new marine protected area in this spectacular place—Admiralty Sound in Tierra del Fuego.

The sound is a 50-mile long fjord adjacent to Karukinka Natural Park, a large protected area owned and managed by WCS. The newly declared protected area contains leopard seals, elephant seals, black-browed albatross, Magellanic penguins and more.

The area is in need of protection. Two introduced mammals threaten the biodiversity of the fjord: the beaver, which builds dams in the rivers and streams of Tierra del Fuego, destroying forests and altering watercourses that reach the sea; and mink, which feeds on seabird eggs and chicks, with a high impact on the albatross colony of the Albatross Islet, the only known colony that nests and feeds in inland waters.

The Sound, acting like a funnel of sea and wind, also receives tons of marine debris including plastic bags, ropes, nets, and bottles, where it negatively impacts both marine life and tourism. At the same time, unregulated tourism can be a serious disturbance to natural life, causing abandonment of nests and migration of colonies to more protected sites, with serious consequences in their conservation.

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