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DARWIN200 reaches the Pacific Ocean to visit Talcahuano and Valparaíso Chile

DARWIN200, a two-year planetary conservation mission aboard the magnificent tall ship Oosterschelde, is in Talcahuano, Chile between 20th February – 1st March 2024 and Valparaíso, Chile between 2nd March 2024 – 13th March 2024 for conservation research and youth leadership programmes.

Talcahuano and Valparaíso are the 10th and 11th of 30 ports to be visited during DARWIN200, a 40,000+ nautical mile voyage and conservation mission. The DARWIN200 Global Voyage is retracing young Charles Darwin’s famous journey on HMS Beagle and aims to change the world for the better by empowering 200 next-gen leaders of conservation. 

The Oosterschelde crew sailed via the Strait of Magellan, a navigable sea route in southern Chile, connecting the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. The crew reached the Pacific Ocean in time to celebrate Charles Darwin’s 215th birthday on 12th February. 

Along the way the DARWIN200 crew passed extensive kelp forests. The three species comprising these underwater forest ecosystems are a key component of marine life in the intricate fiord and sounds channel network of Chilean Patagonia. In his voyage accounts, Darwin mentioned that the destruction of these aquatic ecosystems would lead to the loss of numerous fish species, affecting cormorants, otters, seals, and porpoises, potentially threatening the Fuegian population.

Oosterschelde also visited the impressive Bruggen Glacier, which holds the distinction of being the largest western outflow from the Southern Patagonian Ice Field and the longest glacier (65 km)  in the Southern Hemisphere outside Antarctica. The crew had the chance to get closer aboard the Oosterschelde’s dingy to admire the beautiful white-turquoise colours and the rugged texture as it breaks into the waters of the fiord.

As they left the Bruggen Glacier they visited the remote Village of Puerto Eden (137 inhabitants), home of the Kaweskar native people. Renowned for being one of the rainiest places in Patagonia. The Darwin200 team then explored the Corcovado Gulf, further north, an area known for its whale habitat. The Darwin200 crew encountered numerous pods of humpback, sei and blue whales. The spectacle lasted a few hours and was one of the most amazing experiences the crew has experienced so far during the voyage.

Darwin Leaders: Young conservation leadership programme in Talcahuano and valparaíso, chile

In each port of the DARWIN200 global voyage, small groups of ‘Darwin Leaders’, selected from around the world for their outstanding achievements in conservation, join the tall ship for a week-long immersive conservation leadership training programme. Two hundred in total will take part over the two-year expedition. Working alongside local conservation experts, each Darwin Leader uses the ship as their base camp and goes into the field to study a species of animal, plant or an ecosystem, assesses its population status and how it has changed over the past two centuries, learns about conservation initiatives currently in place to protect it and develops their own ideas on how to better conserve the chosen species in the future. 

The intention is that each Darwin Leader will be empowered with new ideas, skills, and experience that will have a positive impact on the work they are already doing in their home countries and inspire their future careers in conservation.

Four Darwin Leaders from Uruguay, Peru and USA will join the tall ship in Talcahuano and Valparaíso, Chile. They will be embedded with local conservation organisations and experts to study:

Darwin Leaders and their projects in Talcahuano and Valparaíso, Chile are

Port: Talcahuano
1. Darwin Leader: Gonzalo Daniel Cacers Bartra, Peru
Project: Challenges for conservation of the sea otter (chungungo) in Caleta Chome
Guiding expert: Andrea Cisterna Concha, Centro de Mastozoologia Marina

2. Darwin Leader: Agustin Carbonell Betancor, Uruguay
Project: Conservation of the Chilean Dolphin in Llico Cove
Guiding expert: Camila Calderón Quirgas, Centro de Mastozoologia Marina

Port: Valparaíso

1. Darwin Leader: Camila Andrea Buitrago, USA
Project: Visitors in the urban wetland Mirasol of Algarrobo: a threat or an opportunity for resilience?
Guiding expert: Peter Kennedy, Fundación Kennedy para la conservación de humedales

4. Darwin Leader: Avery Ryan Tilley, USA
Project: Dogs (Canis lupus familiaris): a threat to urban wildlife
Guiding expert: Marcela Arratia, Fundación Kennedy para la conservación de humedales

Adventure seekers can sail the ship

The general public can sign up to sail the magnificent tall ship Oosterschelde between ports alongside adventure travellers and environmental researchers, who are tasked with steering, navigating and manning the ropes of the three-masted topsail schooner under the guidance of a professional crew. People ranging from 11 to 86 years old and of more than 25 nationalities have signed up to take part as guest crew on the voyage. The voyage legs range in duration, from a single day, to the longest being an epic 5,300 nautical miles and taking 48 days to Cape Horn. Previous sailing experience is not always required for those wanting to join.

See more information on dates, costs and availability at

The World’s Most Exciting Classroom

In continuation of Charles Darwin’s work aboard HMS Beagle, the DARWIN200 ship offers a unique platform to support research into many of the world’s most critical environmental problems. This includes eight engaging research projects, featuring real-time data feeds, informative results presentations, interactive online lectures, and insightful interviews with the talented teams of researchers driving each initiative. Four research projects will be undertaken aboard the tall ship Oosterschelde while it is sailing, the other four will be undertaken in the ports that we visit. Through these research projects, DARWIN200 aims to captivate global audiences, particularly students, enabling the public to delve into and gain deeper insights into some of the world’s most critical environmental challenges.

DARWIN200 Founder and Mission Director Stewart McPherson says: 

Charles Darwin was only 22 when he set sail on his life-changing voyage in 1831, famously saying that it was by far the most important event in his life, determining his whole career. We wanted to create a similarly transformative experience for members of the public and 200 of the world’s brightest young environmentalists, who have the potential to be the STEM and conservation leaders of tomorrow and the catalysts to change the future of planet Earth for the better

With a focus on practical solutions, each project will delve into actionable measures and ways in which we can all play a role in addressing these issues, working together to build a more promising and sustainable future.


About the ship Oosterschelde

Oosterschelde is a three mast tall ship, and one of the world’s finest, fully restored historic tall ships and the largest sailing vessel ever to be restored in the Netherlands.

She is registered by the Dutch Government as a monument of great cultural and historical value. The ship is one of the oldest and most authentic ships in the international fleet of Tall Ships. Oosterschelde relaunched after a major refurbishment in 1996 and was recommissioned by Her Royal Highness Princess Margriet of The Netherlands. She is a bastion of Dutch ship building and is described by the ship’s Director and Captain Gerben Nab as having had at least five lives, starting in 1917 as a cargo vessel. Over the past 30 years Oosterschelde has welcomed thousands of sailors and adventure seekers on board including royalty, politicians, presidents and pop stars, even once hosting a birthday party for Sir Tom Jones!

Oosterschelde was the first Dutch commercial tall ship to sail to both the north and south poles and successfully tackle the infamous Cape Horn, a rocky headland on Hornos Island, in southern Chile known for its hazardous waters. During the pandemic when the world was locked down, a team of Dutch ship builders worked tirelessly to elevate Oosterschelde to the next level in preparation for DARWIN200. As part of the DARWIN200 voyage Oosterschelde will once again navigate Cape Horn, considered the Mount Everest of sailing.

Oosterschelde’s Director and Captain Gerben Nab says,:

The history of the ship and the passion of our crew tell a story that gets under the skin of all who sail aboard her. Not only in Europe, but also in South America, in Africa, in Asia and Australasia. Oosterschelde’s restoration for many was deemed an impossible dream. But not for Dick van Andel who was a young man of just 27 years in age whose vision and enthusiasm saw the dream realised with the efforts and support of many others. We have proven that it is possible to do something outside the box and make it into a success. Connecting to the Darwin200 project, we hope to empower that project in the same way, and show ‘the world’ that with a clear vision and spirit of adventure it is possible to achieve the impossible


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The DARWIN200 mission is an official contributor to the United Nations Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development 2021-2030. The Global Voyage carriers The Explorers Club flag #101.

DARWIN200 patrons and supporters include Dame Jane Goodall, Dr Sylvia Earle and Charles Darwin’s great-great-grand-daughter, Dr Sarah Darwin

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