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Mocha Island

Mocha is a small Chilean island located west of the coast of Arauco Province in the Pacific Ocean. The island is approximately in area, with a small chain of mountains running north-south. In Mapuche mythology the souls of dead people travel west to visit this island. The island today is home to the Mocha Island National Reserve, a nature reserve that covers approximately 45% of the island's surface. The island is noted as the location of numerous historic shipwrecks. The waters off the island are a popular place for recreational sea fishing.


It was historically inhabited by an indigenous coastal population of Mapuche known as the Lafkenches. It was discovered by Juan Bautista Pastene September 10, 1544 and named Isla de San Nicolas de Tolentino.

According to Juan Ignacio Molina the Dutch captain Joris van Spilbergen observed the use of chiliquenes (a llama type) by native Mapuches of Mocha Island as plough animals in 1614.The Geographical, Natural and Civil History of Chili, Pages 15 and 16, Volume II

Mocha Island was regularly visited by pirates from the Netherlands and England. Francis Drake and Olivier van Noort are known to have used the island as a supply base. When Drake was visiting it during his circumnavigation of the globe he was seriously hurt by hostile Mapuches that inhabited the island.

Eventually the Mapuche on the island were transported in 1685, from Mocha Island by Governor Jose de Garro to a reduccion on the plain on the right bank of the Bio Bio River called the Valley of Mocha that later became the location of the modern city of Concepcion, Chile.

The waters off the island are also noted as the home to a famous 19th century sperm whale, Mocha Dick, the inspiration for the fictional whale Moby Dick in the 1851 novel Moby-Dick by Herman Melville.


Francisco Solano Asta-Buruaga y Cienfuegos, Diccionario geografico de la Republica de Chile, SEGUNDA EDICION CORREGIDA Y AUMENTADA, NUEVA YORK, D. APPLETON Y COMPANIA. 1899. pg. 449-450 Mocha (Isla de)

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This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article Mocha Island

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