Where the Wild Things Are
National Geographic’s Pristine Seas project aims to explore, survey, and help protect the last wild places in the ocean. Such places are living libraries of information about how the various parts of a healthy marine ecosystem fit together. But their number is dwindling as long-distance fishing fleets extend their reach.
The Pristine Seas team, led by Explorer-in-Residence Enric Sala, has conducted research at ten remote locations and has used the findings to influence policy. Working together with governments, foundations, and other conservation groups, Pristine Seas has contributed to the protection of more than 150,000 square miles of ocean, including the Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument (U.S.), the Seamounts Marine Management Area (Costa Rica), and the Motu Motiro Hiva Marine Park (Chile).
By declaring a no-fishing zone around the southern Line Islands, the island nation of Kiribati has put a check on ocean exploitation there as well. “Diving at the southern Line Islands reveals what the seas once were, in all their richness and wonder,” says Sala. “Coming here has reset our entire understanding of what’s natural, and has given us a new baseline against which to measure healthy and unhealthy reefs everywhere.”