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Friday, 24 November 2017

Puerto Eden 2007 and 2017

Shell midden - Puerto Eden 2009
When we were here in 2007 & 2009, the major fishing industry - the shellfish industry - was bustling ... there was a huge 'midden' next to the boardwalk which encircles the town. Only a shadow of it is left, and the shellfish are again proliferating in their natural environment. We donated some books to the school library and bought some handicrafts from the local Alcaluf native group whose land this is.
The familiar story to all of us (and particularly to North and South Americans) of land "grabs" and diseases brought by the European colonizers are also -sadly - familiar here. In the south the Chono, Alacaluf, and Yámana Indians occupied the whole Chilean archipelago southward to Cape Horn. Now only a fragment of those people remain - mostly here in Puerto Eden.
 We were advised by French cruisers Isabelle and Ariel on 'Skol' that all cruisers who come here should ask for permission to anchor from the Alcaluf community. As we're only staying a short time, we complied only with the Armada regulations and those governed by international maritime law. Ariel and Isabelle are giving back as much as they can to the community here - teaching French cookery, taking kids on sailing trips and - in return -  learning to weave baskets.

Where the shellfish are in 2017
In 2007 we got to know some of the residents. Louisa was running a wood-fired Pizza Place out of her little house. Her husband Miguel, an engineer, was constructing a new dock in the town centre. They're gone now and the town has seemed really diminished with few children running up to us, fishing from the dock and racing around with their dogs.

But this town is just waiting to TAKE OFF! A civil works project to finish rejuvenating all the old houses in the town is giving employment to some of the local Alcaluf population. A new ferry terminal has been built, and ferry service has been doubled with a new ferry running to Tortel and Puerto Natales providing connections to busses and airlines. For 'Cruisers'there's  a new Boat Haulout in Natales so you can get boats repaired and the hulls repainted. Keri-Lee Pashuk and Greg Landreth have relocated their business here and bought a house which will act as a scientific research center with lodging and trips. They hope to include dive trips. To read about their current scientific work in monitoring the deaths of the many whales lost along this coastline look up

Aboard Traversay III: Louisa, Miguel & family with Louisa's sister 
The fishermen here have had to re-adjust to  a complete abandonment of the shellfish industry because of the Red Tide threat and they've taken up capturing Centolla (the lithodes santolla crab). These are hand-packed, frozen and most are flown directly to Europe and the U.S. Other companies offer the meat re-packaged. SeaTech's ad reads as follows:

A Beautiful Delicious Crab MeatOur Chilean King Crab Meat (Lithodes Antarcticus / Santolla) is packed from crab caught in ice cold pure ocean waters off the coast of southern Chile. The brilliant bright red and pure white colors of the meat, its naturally sweet briny succulent flavor, and wonderful texture is an epicurean delight. Chilean King Crab Meat is packed with merus meat layered over, claw meat, broken leg meat and large whole pieces of shoulder meat in our one pound vacuum packed tray. Our pack is single frozen which maintains the top quality of fresh picked meat. For additional information download our spec sheet, send us an email or give us a call.

Larry's photo of: Lithodes Santolla

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