• Photo: Rudderfish

    Pristine Reefs, New Species, and More

    Learn About What We Found on the Pitcairn Expedition

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Pitcairn is better known globally as the place where British 'Bounty' mutineers settled in 1790, but our comprehensive expedition in March 2012 revealed the true bounty of these waters. Our surveys—over 450 hours underwater—revealed pristine marine ecosystems with intact coral communities and healthy fish populations dominated by top predators such as sharks. The unaltered deep sea habitats of the Pitcairn Islands harbor unique biodiversity including rare deep sea sharks, and fish species completely new to science. This demonstrates the global biological value of the Pitcairn Islands waters. After seeing what our expedition team had found, the Pitcairn community voted unanimously for the protection of their waters in September 2012. Together with our partners the Pitcairn Council and the Pew Environment Group, we proposed the creation of what would be the largest marine reserve in the world around the Pitcairn Islands. The UK government is now studying the proposal.

Facebook Live Interview



Explorer-in-Residence Enric Sala phoned in from Pitcairn to give an update on the expedition and answered questions from Facebook fans around the world.

Pristine Sea Expeditions

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    Salas y Gómez Expedition

    National Geographic and Oceana, in collaboration with the Chilean Navy, travelled to the remote Salas y Gómez Island, some 200 miles (about 323 km) east of Easter Island, Chile.

  • Photo: Silver tip sharks swimming near Cocos Island

    Cocos Island Expedition

    In September 2009, Enric Sala, Sylvia Earle, and a team of scientists gathered in Costa Rica to document the pristine waters of Cocos Island and study the Gemelas Seamounts.

  • Photo: Red snapper

    Southern Line Islands Expedition

    During the spring of 2009, Enric Sala and a team of scientists returned to the central Pacific-this time to the southern Line Islands, a province of the Republic of Kiribati.

  • Photo: Large coral colony at Kingman Reef

    Northern Line Islands Expedition

    In 2005 and 2007, Dr. Enric Sala and a team of scientists traveled to the northern Line Islands in the North Pacific.

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Video: NG Live! Pitcairn Islands



National Geographic Explorer-in-Residence Enric Sala dives deep into the waters of one of the most pristine places on Earth—the Pitcairn Islands—only to discover its delicate ecosystem is not as unspoiled as it may seem.

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