IWC 60: Santiago, Chile
Here starts the WDCS diary from the 60th meeting of the International Whaling Commission (a.k.a. the IWC) in Chile.
Welcome to the rugged and currently rather cold â€˜long countryâ€™. Chile is more than 2,600 miles long and yet has only an average width of 110miles. Sandwiched between the Andes and the Pacific, it can claim the driest desert in the world; the highest mountains in the southern half of the planet; rain forests; and even a slice of the Antarctic continent. The mountains here are still sharp and young because here the rocks are still very lively. Here volcanoes bubble and blast and earthquakes are common. The Chaiten volcano, which is (fortunately for us) around 1,300 kilometers (800 miles) south of Santiago, the Chilean capital, has been erupting with significant vigour since May, after lying dormant for centuries. One week ago it increased its activity further and it is currently pouring out thick clouds of ash and hurling molten rocks into the air.
Fortunately it is not hurling them as far as the capital because, meanwhile, the annual IWC event is taking place in Santiago, although even here earth tremors are a way of life. The earth has â€˜spokenâ€™ twice in the last week â€“ but fortunately it has been more of a murmur than a well formed iteration â€“ and whilst the uninitiated have sat up worried in their beds wondering quite what to do whilst windows rattled and floors creaked, the locals have simply slept on unperturbed. Such minor movements are just part of a way of life here.
The Sun Shines Less Brightly
And here having only just started our IWC coverage, we need to pause it for a moment to speak to colleagues far away.
Last week, on Thursday, the news reached the WDCS team in Santiago that we had tragically lost one of our dear friends and colleagues. There will be proper tributes to her elsewhere, but for those of us who knew her well and who were privileged enough to share a little time â€“ too little time â€“ with her, the world is now a sadder place.
We will continue to do what we came here to do, but you will understand if our tone is a little more somber than you might otherwise have expected. And to Lisaâ€™s many friends, her partner and her family, including the people back in WDCS UK, we donâ€™t really have words for you, just hands outreached across the miles.