The HMS Beagle has arrived at Chiloe Island, in Chile. I recorded the Island was hilly and made up of one big forest so dense and impenetrable that only the coastal regions of the island were cultivated. One plant in particular caught my interest – the Chilean giant rhubarb Gunnera scabra, a food source for the local population.
The Gunnera leaf is nearly circular, but deeply indented on its margin. I measured one which had a diameter of nearly eight feet, and therefore a circumference of no less than twenty-four! The stalk is rather more than a yard high, and each plant sends out four or five of these enormous leaves-presenting together a very noble appearance.
In the Chonos Archipelago, I again recorded the geology of the landscape. This time it was a low granite mountains and deep bays. Fitzroy and I made a trip to one deep bay where we found the surface of the water to be fresh as a result of torrents of water from the mountains. This attracted the fish, which in turn attracted various birds, sea otters and seals.
I made collections of the island’s marine life, which included flatworms, siphonophores, barnacles and molluscs. Some of the species I collected were new, for example the sea slug Thecacera darwinii.
By Chloe D