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article imageHistory, nature and gastronomy at quaint Quintay fishing cove Special

By Igor I. Solar     Sep 2, 2011 in Travel
Casablanca - The small fishing cove of Quintay has been transformed from a foul smelling whaling plant into an attractive coastal village with seafood restaurants, a museum showcasing the history of whaling and a marine research station.
Quintay Cove is located in the Municipality of Casablanca, 122 kilometers from Santiago de Chile and 47 kilometers from the port of Valparaíso. In this place, until 1967 operated Chile's largest and most important whale processing plant. British and German engineers working in the copper mining industry in the Andean region were specially hired in 1943 to design and direct the work of filling the space between the rocks to construct the terraces and buildings where the whaling plant, property of the INDUS Company, worked at full capacity until 1967, the last three years under Japanese management.
In 1967 the government of Chile signed an international treaty that stopped whaling to allow stocks to recover and the whaling operations at Quintay were suspended. However, following the United Nations Conference on the Human Environment held in Stockholm in 1972, the killing of whales never resumed in Chile.
The picturesque fishing village of Quintay has only 722 residents  but several hundreds visit the pl...
The picturesque fishing village of Quintay has only 722 residents, but several hundreds visit the place mostly on weekends to see the Museum of Whaling and try the seafood restaurants.
The fishing village has a small beach with colourful boats and a new seawall in front of the many re...
The fishing village has a small beach with colourful boats and a new seawall in front of the many restaurants.
Between 700 and 1000 people, some of them local residents, worked at the Quintay whaling plant. Hunting was done off-shore with boats equipped with harpoons shot by a cannon. At the time, 8 and up to 18 vessels operated simultaneously, each capable of hunting as many as sixteen whales a day. The whale hunting boats had all the same name, Indus 1-19 (for "obvious reasons" there was no Indus 13).
One of the restaurants  PeZcadores  is right on the beach with excellent views of the rockeries and ...
One of the restaurants, PeZcadores, is right on the beach with excellent views of the rockeries and the open Pacific Ocean.
Pelicans and several other species of marine birds make the cove of Quintay their home.
Pelicans and several other species of marine birds make the cove of Quintay their home.
The operations were gruesome. Once the spear struck the body of the whale, a grenade exploded, killing the animal instantly. The dead whale was injected compressed air to make it float. Then, they were towed to the cove and held next to the plant to be processed. The seashore around the plant was often covered with floating dead whales, causing a foul smell that could be felt for miles around.
Ruins of the old INDUS whale processing plant at Quintay have been preserved
Ruins of the old INDUS whale processing plant at Quintay have been preserved
The old wharf and the ramp used to bring the whales from the sea to the plant are part of the Whalin...
The old wharf and the ramp used to bring the whales from the sea to the plant are part of the Whaling Museum.
The whales were hauled up a ramp alongside the pier with the help of three winches, depending on the size of the animal, and placed on a quartering platform where gutting was done manually. The processing obtained several products of varying degrees of sophistication including soap and detergents, fat for margarine production, oil, meat for pet food and for human consumption, and bone meal to use as fertilizer.
The Center for Marine Research of Quintay belongs to Andres Bello University and studies the local m...
The Center for Marine Research of Quintay belongs to Andres Bello University and studies the local marine environment and alternative species for aquaculture.
Sport fishers compete with the local fishermen by catching rockfish at Quintay. Here is the morning ...
Sport fishers compete with the local fishermen by catching rockfish at Quintay. Here is the morning catch for a couple of visiting aficionados.
Mr. Pedro Tronche has been a fisherman since age 20; he worked at the whaling plant for two years  b...
Mr. Pedro Tronche has been a fisherman since age 20; he worked at the whaling plant for two years, but he left the job because the workers smelled so bad "it was impossible to keep a girlfriend".
After the whaling plant closed the fishing village became nearly dormant for many years until an organization called “Quintay Foundation” recognized the beauty of the site and the historic value of the old plant and developed a plant to bring Quintay back to life.
A sector of the ruins of the old plant was preserved. Other areas were restored and transformed into a museum showing the history of whaling, the protection of the whale species, the development of policies for sustainable fisheries and coastal biodiversity, and the recovery of the marine environment.
Next to the museum, and occupying part of the old plant facilities, operates CIMARQ a marine research station run by Andrés Bello University.
The new seawall and promenade overlooks the rockeries around Quintay Cove.
The new seawall and promenade overlooks the rockeries around Quintay Cove.
Quintay s Long Beach. A couple of hundred meters beyond the fishing cove there is a 1-Km long sandy ...
Quintay's Long Beach. A couple of hundred meters beyond the fishing cove there is a 1-Km long sandy beach where several residences have been built.
The fishing village has also seen improvements. New waterfront terraces and several seafood restaurants give the place a quaint atmosphere. One of the best seafood restaurants in the village is called “PeZcadores” (modification of the Spanish word meaning “Fishermen”). Right on the beach, overlooking the fishing boats, it offers a variety of fresh fish and shellfish delicacies and a remarkable view of the cove’s activities and the marine birds living in the area.
Being relatively close to the Chilean capital and other larger cities of the central coast, this location is ideal for a day trip which may include, besides the visit to the Whaling Museum, many other activities such as walking along the beach, bird-watching, swimming, diving, fishing, and the enjoyment of a large array of fresh seafood along with some of the excellent Chilean wines.
Entrance to PeZcadores Seafood Restaurant.
Entrance to PeZcadores Seafood Restaurant.
Seafood lovers enjoy a variety of fish and shellfish dishes at PeZcadores in Quintay Cove.
Seafood lovers enjoy a variety of fish and shellfish dishes at PeZcadores in Quintay Cove.
More about Quintay, Chile, Valparaiso, Casablanca, Whaling
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