The Humboldt current

Travelling north on the Chilean coast has reminded us of being on the Hebridean islands off the west of Scotland.


Below is Isla Choros, Chile.



Los Pinquinos

Both places are in remote locations, sometimes difficult to access, giving visitors a sense of isolation, a rare commodity in this overcrowded world.  Both have exotic white beaches and turquoise seas.



White beach

Both places are blessed with sea currents which promote a profusion of marine life around them. The  seas off  the Hebrides are ‘brushed’ by the warm Gulf Stream  and despite being at 58 degrees north one can amazingly find Palm trees on the seashore.


The Chilean coast  has its own ‘marine’ magic wand, the Humboldt current.  The similarities end when comparing both sea currents, the Gulf Stream is a warm current from Mexico which interferes with the cold waters of the arctic, whereas the Humboldt is a cold current flowing from the Antarctic into warm tropical waters.


The Humboldt is an amiable ‘monster’ of a current.  As it flows north it splits into two as it reaches Tierra del Fuego.  One part flows east,up the Argentinean coast.  The other part flows westwards up the Chilean coast –  a 1000 mile wide mass of nutrient rich water.


The importance of the Humboldt first became obvious to us as we were seawatching at La Boca.


michael seawatching



The sea was absolutely teaming with Shearwaters.  Whereas off Western Scotland we were used to seeing  hundreds of Shearwaters in a day,  here we were seeing tens of thousands at any one time, too many to count.


Sooty Shearwaters



Sooty Shearwaters mixed in with  Pink-footed Shearwaters and the occasional Giant Petrel.


Sooty Shearwaters 2



There were great seabird nesting colonies, Pelicans, Peruvian Boobies and Guanay Cormorants .


Cormorant colony



and not only birds, but marine mammals lke Bottlenosed Dolphins


Bottlenose Dolphin 2

and pods of Fin Whales, the second largest mammal on the planet.


Fin Whale 1

The effects of the Humboldt current are truly awesome.