Pristine Seas

Desventuradas Islands Expedition

Picture of fish in Desventuradas Islands

Photograph by Enric Sala

SPECIAL ANNOUNCEMENT: On October 5, 2015, the Chilean government announced that it has created the largest marine reserve in the Americas by protecting an area hundreds of miles off its coast roughly the size of Italy. The new area, called the Nazca-Desventuradas Marine Park, constitutes about 8 percent of the ocean areas worldwide that have been declared off-limits to fishing and governed by no-take protections. Learn More

The Desventuradas Islands (the 'unfortunate islands' in Spanish), located 530 miles off the coast of Chile, are one of the most mysterious and unknown places in the Eastern Pacific. San Ambrosio (uninhabited) and San Félix (with only a small garrison of the Chilean Navy) had likely never been filmed underwater, and there was very little scientific information about the underwater world of these islands. The Pristine Seas project identified the area surrounding the Desventuradas Islands as one of a handful of potentially pristine environments left in South America.

In February-March 2013, National Geographic Explorer-in-Residence Enric Sala led an expedition to these remote islands in collaboration with partner Oceana Chile to explore, survey, and film this unknown world, from the surface to thousands of meters below.

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