In March 2012, Pristine Seas, in cooperation with the PEW Charitable Trusts, undertook a month-long expedition to determine the health of the marine environment surrounding the four Pitcairn Islands. Over the course of the expedition, the team of top marine ecologists and filmmakers made 384 dives, spent more than 450 person-hours underwater, and counted and measured thousands of species of fish, coral, and algae. What they found were exquisite and highly functional ecosystems, beginning with that of remote Ducie atoll.
Species never before reported at Pitcairn included those of algae, corals, reef fishes, and rare deep-sea sharks. The expedition even revealed the world’s deepest known living plant, a species of encrusting coralline alga found at 382 meters.
Following the expedition, the Pristine Seas team worked with the Pitcairn Island Council and PEW to draft a proposal for a no-take marine reserve that would cover the islands’ entire exclusive economic zone. The community voted unanimously in favor of creating the reserve, and in March 2015, the British government established the Pitcairn Islands Marine Reserve. At 834,334 square kilometers, it is among the world’s largest ocean reserves. No fishing or seafloor mining is allowed in the reserve, with the exception of traditional fishing around the island of Pitcairn by the local population.