<%@LANGUAGE="JAVASCRIPT" CODEPAGE="1252"%> Evanescent Light : Carretera Austral


evanescent
: fleeting, transitory
evanescent wave: a nearfield standing wave, employed for total internal reflection microscopy

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Carretera Austral

Photos from an out-and-back road trip along the Carretera Austral from Coyhaique to Caleta Tortel: October 26-November 03, 2018


The Carretera Austral (in english: Southern Way) is the name given to Chile's Route 7. The highway runs about 1,240 kilometers (770 mi) from Puerto Montt to Villa O'Higgins through rural Patagonia. Carretera Austral provides road access to Chile's Aysén del General Carlos Ibáñez del Campo Region and southern part of Los Lagos Region. These areas are sparsely populated and despite its length, Carretera Austral provides access to only about 100,000 people. Construction of the highway was commenced in 1976 under the dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet in order to connect a number of remote communities. The highway opened to traffic in 1988, and by 1996 was completed to Puerto Yungay. The last 100 kilometers (62 mi) to Villa O'Higgins were opened in 2000. In 2003, a branch road to Caleta Tortel was finished. The highway began as almost entirely unpaved, but more sections are becoming paved each year. At the time of our visit in 2018 the paved road ended at Villa Cerro Castillo, so the great majority of our journey was on unpaved, but surprisingly well maintained gravel roads.

 

Landscape Images

   



   





 

 

Driving along the Carretera

 



Endangered Huemul Deer

The south Andean deer (Hippocamelus bisulcus) is an endangered species of deer native to the mountains of Argentina and Chile. The huemul is part of Chile's national coat of arms and it is since 2006 a National Natural Monument. The viability of the small remaining population is an outstanding concern to researchers.


 

 

Guanacos

The guanaco (Lama guanicoe) is a camelid native to South America, closely related to the llama. In Argentina and Chile they are most numerous in Patagonian regions, where they have robust populations since grazing competition from livestock is limited.

 




For much of the time guanacos seem to live a sedate life, grazing alone or in small herds, or lying among the grasses to languidly chew the cud. But, we were there at the start of the mating season, when things sometimes got a lot more frisky. Males become territorial at 4 to 6 years old, and thereafter they engage in violent competition to establish residence in feeding territories and control of family groups. Although guanacos are not sexually dimorphic in body size, males have significantly enlarged canines, which they use in intense, frequently injurious male–male fights that include include spitting; threatening displays; chasing and fleeing; biting at the legs, hindquarters, and necks of their opponents; ramming chests; and neck wrestling. [Click HERE for a BBC video]

Guanacos live in herds composed of females, their young, and a dominant male. Bachelor males form separate herds. While reproductive groups tend to remain small, often containing no more than 10 adults, bachelor herds may contain as many as 50 males.The members of one particular herd with territory near the park entrance were particularly prone to engage in fights. I was able to photograph many examples of these behaviors over two days, usually positioning myself in a small depression to try to catch the guanacos on ridgelines so they would stand out against a clear or well-blurred background.




Birds

The Marble Caves (Cuevas de Mármol), Puerto Rio Tranquillo



updated 11/18 /2018






IanParker
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University of California,
Irvine, CA 92697

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