"We had become accustomed to the life here, so removed from the world at large that you forget about it—it becomes trivial and completely unappealing. I could see myself spending the rest of my years on Pitcairn."—Mike Fay, National Geographic explorer-in-residence

Photograph by Enric Sala

Picture of diver in Pitcairn
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The National Geographic Society in 2013 undertook an expedition, in cooperation with the Pew Charitable Trusts, to determine the health of the marine environment surrounding the four Pitcairn islands. The islands are home to descendants of the famous mutineers of the H.M.S. Bounty. We found an exquisite and highly functional ecosystem surrounding two of the more remote islands, filled with large predators and the southernmost functional coral reef ecosystem in the Pacific. We published our peer reviewed study of these pristine areas in the scientific journal PLOS ONE in June, 2014. (Read: The Real Bounty: Marine Biodiversity in the Pitcairn Islands)

The Pristine Seas team worked with the leaders of the local community to draft a proposal to create a no-take marine reserve in the entire Exclusive Economic Zone of the islands, which would be more than 231,000 square miles in size. The community then took a vote and it was unanimous in favor of creating the reserve. The U.K. government, which controls these islands and provides full financial support for residents, is currently considering this proposal.

Enric Sala discusses one of the most pristine places on Earth—the Pitcairn Islands.


A World Apart

An underwater paradise in the remote Pacific Ocean will be protected—thanks in part to National Geographic’s Pristine Seas project.

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