Pristine Seas

Pristine Seas

National Geographic Society (NGS) – Since 2008, National Geographic’s Pristine Seas project led by Explorer-in-Residence Enric Sala has conducted 15 expeditions to some of the most remote places in the world with the goal of protecting the last wild places in the ocean. From the Arctic to temperate seas to the tropics, the Pristine Seas team has been documenting underwater and coastal ecosystems and producing scientific papers, reports, articles, films, and other media to raise awareness for conservation. Pristine Seas works in partnership with local communities, governments, and other organizations to promote the protection of these marine ecosystems. Team photographers and videographers capture the beauty and wonder of these places and National Geographic’s media platforms bring the importance of immediate action to a global audience. Working with a network of strategic partners, Pristine Seas works with political leaders to inspire protection of precious marine ecosystems and provides guidance on sustainable management and enforcement practices to ensure the reserves remain healthy for generations to come.

The Problem

Marine Pollution – Pollutants are dumped into the ocean at an alarming rate every single day. Learn more about how trash and toxic chemicals threaten marine species and their habitats.

Overfishing – Overfishing disrupts the balance of life in the ocean and has significant consequences for the millions of people worldwide that rely on fish as their primary source of protein.

Sea Temperature Rise – Warmer oceans threaten coral reefs and fish stocks, with rising temperatures affecting some of the most fundamental links in the marine ecosystem and leading to higher sea levels.

Acidification – As the ocean absorbs carbon emissions, it is experiencing a rapid drop in surface pH—a shift that is destabilizing marine environments and could have significant global consequences.

Invasive Species – Aquatic invasive species are introduced to a location in a variety of ways and can be harmful to the balance of native marine ecosystems.

The Solution

Exploring Pristine Places – Each Pristine Seas expedition brings us closer to understanding how the ocean appeared and functioned before extensive human impact.

Creating Reserves – Marine protected areas are critical to restoring the health of the ocean. Since 2009, Pristine Seas has helped secure 2.2 million square kilometers of ocean protection worldwide.

Making Discoveries – Our cutting-edge research has revealed how intact marine ecosystems function and has even discovered species new to science.

Accomplishments – Since its launch in 2008, Pristine Seas has worked with key partners to help protect more than 3 million square kilometers of the ocean.

– Cocos Island
Desventuradas Islands
Franz Josef Land
Galápagos Island
Northern Line Islands
Pitcairn Island
Salas y Gómez
Southern Line Islands

Updates from the Field – For more information on current and future expeditions as well as other exciting activities, please visit the Pristine Seas website.


Pristine Seas has made tremendous progress toward accomplishing its goals to create large, no-take marine reserves and to restore the health and resilience of unique ecosystems. The Pristine Seas approach uses a unique combination of exploration, scientific research, economic and policy analysis, and compelling media. Together with key partners, Pristine Seas has helped to create eight of the largest marine reserves in the world, protecting more than three million square kilometers of ocean. Five additional reserves are in progress, and over the next three years, Pristine Seas will target at least 12 additional pristine places. The team will continue working with global leaders, local communities, business leaders, and partner nongovernmental organizations to preserve and protect remote areas of the ocean, making a significant contribution to the international goal of protecting 10 percent of the world’s ocean by 2020.

Comments are closed.