In February 2013, the National Geographics Pristine Seas Expeditions with Blancpain conducted an expedition with Oceana to the Desventuradas, which includes the islands of San Félix and San Ambrosio. With a team of all-star scientists and the use of cutting-edge technology, the expedition was the first to explore what was considered one of the last potentially pristine marine environments in South America.
“The new Nazca-Desventuradas Marine Park is a gift from Chile to the world,” said Enric Sala, National Geographic Explorer-in-Residence and head of the Society’s Pristine Seas project. “It contains pristine underwater environments like nothing else in the ocean, including deep underwater mountains with species new to science, abundant giant lobster and a relict population of the once-thought-extinct Juan Fernández fur seal.”
A few areas of the ocean remain relatively unaltered by humans. These pristine places, like the seas surrounding the Desventuradas, are key to the health of the global ocean ecosystem. The hope is that additional governments around the world will create protected areas in order to conserve and restore the richness of marine life and habitat.
Blancpain has been a frontrunner in the support of the Pristine Seas project and was the first organization to contribute to it. This unwavering support has helped the program to grow as it strives to become one of the world’s leading ocean conservation initiatives. Led by National Geographic Explorer-in-Residence Dr. Enric Sala, the Pristine Seas expeditions are dedicated to exploring the precious few remaining truly unspoiled, wild ocean areas on earth. The expeditions study and film these areas as part of the larger effort to educate the public and governments on the value and uniqueness of their ecosystems and to support governmental pledges to protect them. With Blancpain's support, the program has already helped protect areas in the United States, UK, Chile, Gabon, Kiribati and Costa Rica, covering more than 2,500,000 square kilometers (as compared for example to Switzerland’s area of 41,285 square kilometers) and includes the largest continuous marine sanctuary in the world which was recently set aside by the United Kingdom. These protected areas represent important baselines in the understanding of the true magnitude of human impacts on ocean life, the evaluation of the efficacy of management and conservation actions, and represent an important step toward improving the condition of the ocean to be inherited by future generations.