The twelve of us walked along the coast of the Pacific Ocean, avoiding horse manure and looking for a cactus called Quisco de los Acantilados or “Cliff Kiosk.” The sun was setting, spilling shades of orange and yellow across the sky. We reached an inlet with a large rocky beach, the waves are crashing loudly and my mind flashed back to my wipe out during surfing that morning. The slope of this cliff is covered in cactus, thistle, and grasses radiating orange against the setting sun. Everything in my view is orange, the plants, the rocks, our faces from sunburns. The group moved quickly to reach a peak and watch the sun completely disappear below the horizon. I sat quietly, happy and content as I watched the sun set for the last time in 2016 halfway across the world in Pichilemu, Chile.
Punta de Lobos, or Wolves Point, is known for being the surf capital of South America, but what most people don’t know is that it is one of the largest population of this endangered cactus. The cactus known scientifically as, Echinopsis bolligeriana and commonly in Spanish as Quisco de los Acantilados is on the red list for endangered species. The main threat to this cactus is loss of habitat from tourism and urbanization from the large crowds coming to Pichilemu to surf the great waves. The ambassador of Superfun, Emilio Garcia de la Heurta Sutil, is associated with a cactus scientist, who asked our team to collect seeds so that he can propagate the seeds. Our team set out on New Years Eve to collect seeds of the Quisco de los Acantilados in hopes that our work will help protect these beautiful and fragile plants.