Pristine Seas

Exploring and protecting some of the last truly wild places in the ocean

SPECIAL ANNOUNCEMENT: On March 21, 2016, the government of Ecuador announced the creation of a more than 40,000-square-kilometer marine sanctuary around two of the northern Galápagos islands, Darwin and Wolf, in addition to several no-take areas throughout the archipelago. The new marine sanctuary will protect the largest biomass of sharks in the world. The Pristine Seas team carried out a scientific expedition to the Galápagos in December of 2015 with the support of Blancpain, Davidoff, The Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust, and other partners. Learn More ».

About Pristine Seas

The ocean—covering over 70 percent of the planet—sustains all life on Earth. It supplies more than half the oxygen we breathe and regulates the Earth’s climate. Its fisheries provide employment for 180 million people and food for billions worldwide, and it offers opportunities for recreation, education, and tourism.

National Geographic and Explorer-in-Residence Dr. Enric Sala launched the Pristine Seas project to find, survey, and help protect the last wild places in the ocean.

The Problem

A picture of trash on the beach

The ocean is vast—and it is also in peril. Overfishing, pollution, climate change, and mass species extinction are all fundamentally altering the ocean’s complex ecosystems. Today we see undeniable evidence of fisheries collapse, coral reef degradation, and marine dead zones.

The Solution

A picture of corals underwater

A few areas of the ocean remain relatively unaltered by humans. These pristine places are key to the health of the global ocean ecosystem. Pristine Seas works to inspire governments around the world to create protected areas in these remote places in order to conserve and restore the richness of marine life and habitat.

With your support, we have helped to protect more than

3 million square kilometers of ocean territory.

Completed Expeditions
Protected Areas
Ongoing Projects

Map by National Geographic Society. Sources: Pristine Seas, MPAtlas

What You Can Do

Join the cause. Donate, sign up to receive expedition updates from the field, and share our work with others.


Order the Pristine Seas Book

The last of the pristine seas offer a fascinating glimpse into our past and an inspiring vision for the future. In Pristine Seas: Journeys to the Ocean’s Last Wild Places, National Geographic Explorer-in-Residence Enric Sala takes readers on a dazzling journey to ten of these astounding locations, showing what we have to gain by protecting our seas.