As part of its Ocean Commitment program, Blancpain supported a National Geographic Pristine Seas expedition to the Selvagens Islands. On the basis of the expedition findings, the Government of Portugal announced the creation of the largest fully protected marine reserve in Europe and the North Atlantic. 2'677 square km2 have now been officially protected in Selvagens Islands.
Blancpain has been a frontrunner in backing the Pristine Seas initiative as founding partner from 2011 to 2016. Headed by National Geographic Society's Explorer-in-Residence, Dr. Enric Sala, the Pristine Seas expeditions are dedicated to exploring and protecting the precious few remaining, truly unspoiled, wild ocean areas. To date, twelve out of the fourteen Pristine Seas expeditions supported by Blancpain have led to the designation of a Marine Protected Area.
In September 2015, the Pristine Seas team explored the Selvagens Islands, conducting among the first surveys of the islands’ underwater ecosystems – from shallow to deep – and filming the biodiversity around the islands. Located nearly midway between Madeira and the Canary Islands in the North Atlantic, this small archipelago is Portugal’s southernmost territory, comprised of two main islands and multiple islets. Using high-tech equipment including midwater pelagic cameras and drop cams, the team was able to assess pelagic communities and deep-sea habitats in addition to the shallow flora and fauna observed during dives. From their observations of the ecosystem, they found that open waters around the islands were a vital waypoint for migrating fish and mammals in the Atlantic while the nearshore waters provided important nursery habitats.
To date, the multiple activities passionately pursued by Blancpain in support of exploring and preserving the oceans have led to tangible results, notably contributing to significantly extending the surface of marine protected areas around the world, with an addition of more than 4.2 million km2.