A two-and-a-half hour flight separates the Chilean capital of Santiago and the Archipiélago de Juan Fernández National Park. The archipelago is rich in marine and terrestrial biodiversity and comprises three islands: Santa Clara, Alejandro Selkirk, and Robinson Crusoe, which is home to San Juan Bautista, the islands’ only permanently inhabited settlement. According to legend, a treasure lies in the sea around the island. For two decades, treasure hunters used shovels and picks in their search. But in November 2019, methods changed radically with the introduction of a backhoe with a mechanized hammer. The advent of this shift sparked controversy around the potential destruction of the environment in the national park, which was designated a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve in 1977. The History of the Treasure In 1994, historian and businessman Bernard Keiser, a naturalized U.S. citizen of Dutch descent, arrived for the first time on Robinson Crusoe Island. More than just a tourist, he had evidence that pirates had lost treasure in the area. The local community knows Keiser by the nickname “El Gringo.” Keiser had found “significant writings” dating from the 18th century in Selkirk’s Cave on the small bay of Puerto Inglés, according to Victorio Bertullo, a historian and close friend of Keiser. Buoyed by his discovery, Keiser went to Seville, Spain, to examine historical naval records from that period in the General Archive of the Indies, which houses documents related to the Spanish Empire’s activities in North and South America as well as the Philippines. His research confirmed…This article was originally published on Mongabay Läs mer