The Chilean Luga Diver Called ‘Angel’

Wenger Patagonian Expedition Race. Captain of the San Isidro II, Angel Espana (CHI), wetsuited up after diving for Luga, Sea Urchins and King Crab in the Magellan Straight. (Nikon D700)

This portrait is of a 60 year old Chilean Luga diver called ‘Angel’. It came about after and attempt to document an adventure race in remote Chilean Patagonia. It fell apart when all the teams withdrew from the race or got lost. The USA team ended up living off wild berries and being heli-rescued semi-hypothermic after getting ‘slightly disorientated’, which is why I didn’t get photos of them… not even they knew where they were.

I had ventured into a 5 day unsupported trek through the brutal terrain with another journalist and photographer to document the race, and when no teams turned up we finally came across a lone guide also searching for them in the Patagonian wilderness.

Without a working sat-phone, we headed to the coast (a mission in itself) and used a fading UHF radio to call a fishing boat we could see on the horizon. The father and son crew live a life diving under kelp beds in the freezing waters a stones throw from Antarctica to hand harvest ‘Luga’ (ab algea sought after in Japan). I live in the tiny two person boat for days, eating fresh bread, King Crab and sea urchins.

It was an amazing experience documenting the life of these guys and also a lesson in humanity. These fishermen are very poor but still looked after us like kings.

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