Franz Josef Land Expedition

Picture of ocean

Photograph by Andy Mann

In July-August 2013, National Geographic Explorer-in-Residence Dr. Enric Sala led a Pristine Seas expedition to Franz Josef Land in collaboration with Russkaya Arktika National Park, the Russian Geographical Society, and National Geographic. An international group of scientists and filmmakers assessed how pristine the ocean-land ecosystem is and compared its current state with historical scientific baselines and photographs obtained by explorers in the late 1800s.

The expedition team found near pristine terrestrial and underwater environments with abundant large predators, and captured the first, deep-sea video of the rare Greenland shark. In August 2016, Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev announced the expansion of the Russian Arctic National Park by 74,000 square kilometers to include the Franz Josef Land archipelago. This expansion creates not only the largest protected area in Russia, but also the largest marine reserve in the Arctic, at a total of 88,000 square kilometers.

Read more in National Geographic magazine: Russia’s Franz Josef Land Archipelago

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