Pitcairn Islands Become World’s Largest Single Marine Reserve

The Titan triggerfish, a voracious predator, being cleaned by a cleaner wrasse.
With bright colors and crazy teeth, this Titan triggerfish was one of the most memorable characters encountered on the Pristine Seas Pitcairn Expedition. (Photo by Enric Sala/National Geographic)

Today the U.K. government announced the creation of the world’s largest contiguous marine protected area, covering an area larger than California or the U.K. itself around the Pitcairn Islands in the remote South Pacific (get the full story from National Geographic News).

The announcement comes three years after a National Geographic Pristine Seas expedition in cooperation with the Pew Charitable Trusts explored the area more extensively than any expedition in history and revealed healthy fish populations and intact marine ecosystems dominated by top predators.

Among the four islands of Pitcairn, Ducie, Oeno, and Henderson contained in the new marine reserver, only Pitcairn is inhabited today.

More than 200 years after the famous mutiny on the Bounty, some 50 descendants of those sailors and their Tahitian wives still call these two square miles of rock home, while Henderson was home briefly to a few of the beleaguered survivors of the Essex, sunk by a sperm whale in the late 19th century.

The new reserve contains some of the best coral reefs in the world and intact deep-sea habitats with many species new to science. Now these treasures in the Pacific will be protected for generations to come.

Pristine Seas has contributed to over 2.2 million square kilometers of ocean protection. But we’ve still got a long way to go to meet the global conservation goal of protecting 10% of the ocean by 2020. Just last week, Pristine Seas launched its first expedition of 2015 to the outer islands of the Seychelles. The team has already encountered inquisitive giant groupers, territorial tortoises and some of the healthiest —> Read More