Pitcairn Islands Expedition: What We Found

Many of you have been following our wonderful team of explorers, including the esteemed Enric Sala and our social media savant Andrew Howley, as they conducted a nearly one-month-long tour of research in the Pitcairn Islands of the South Pacific. The object of the research was to better understand the effects of human impacts on pristine seas and biodiversity. Pristine means an environment, such as a coral reef, that is almost entirely unharmed and unaltered by anthropogenic (human) activity. Being located in the most remote corner of the Pacific Ocean, Pitcairn seemed to be a good candidate for such a study. As it turns out, the waters around the various islands are an excellent example of pristine seas, and invoked a sort of reverent awe in the minds of our seasoned scientists and team members.

In the last 3 weeks, Enric, Andrew, Michael Fay, and other vital team members visited the 4 islands of the Pitcairn Archipelago, conducting nearly 400 dives and spending over 450 person-hours underwater. They counted and documented tens of thousands of fishes, urchins, algae, and corals. You can read more about their firsthand experiences and findings, both scientific and informal, here. Aside from his interest in ocean conservation and figuring out innovative ways to mitigate the decline of pristine coral reefs and ecosystems, Dr. Sala is also a talented underwater photographer, as demonstrated below by the beautiful image of sharks swimming over thriving coral heads near Ducie Atoll.
duciesharks990-590x442.jpgGrey reef sharks soar above an extensive bed of coral at Ducie atoll. Photo: Enric Sala

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Live Chat With Enric Sala

TUNE IN!…to a live interview with National Geographic Explorer-in Residence Enric Sala on NG’s Facebook
page tomorrow, March 28 at 2:30pm ET.

Facebook Live Special Event: Your Questions for a Deep-Sea Explorer
the first time ever, National Geographic Facebook Live will host their weekly
interview not from National Geographic Headquarters in Washington, D.C.,
but from the remote Pitcairn Islands nestled in the middle of the
Pacific Ocean. Miles from any other inhabited island,
Explorer-in-Residence Enric Sala will join us by satellite phone to
give an update on a month-long expedition to Pitcairn and reveal
stunning photographs–straight from the field–of the island’s rich

We first announced the Pitcairn Expedition to the Nat Geo Education Blog audience in early March. At that time, we asked students to submit their questions for Enric and his team, which also includes National Geographic Explorer-in-Residence Mike Fay. The team has agreed to answer at least one of the student questions during the live chat on March 28. Keep reading below to see some of the questions our readers submitted!

17847.jpgMarine ecologist Enric Sala (foreground) examines an enormous lobe
coral on Kingman Reef in the South Pacific’s remote Line Islands. This
coral is 500 years old, but the species was unknown to science before
Sala’s discovery. Such finds aren’t shocking at Kingman, which is one
of the world’s most pristine reef ecosystems. The site shows scientists
how much has been lost at reefs found closer to human habitation. Photo by Brian J. Skerry.

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