Regular readers of NG blogs will remember Explorer-in-Residence Enric Sala’s epic journey earlier this year to study the unknown marine world around the Pitcairn Islands, fabled home of the Bounty mutineers and their descendents. In the video above, get a taste of the upcoming NatGeo Wild television special chronicling this remarkable project.
This Monday night, history was made and repeated in an NG Live event as Enric reported back on his findings, taking the stage just as his predecessor Luis Marden had done more than 50 years earlier to tell the story of his own journey to the island as chronicled in the December 1957 National Geographic Magazine.
Where Marden’s voyage focused on describing Pitcairn’s past and present, Enric’s is all about its future. Hundreds of miles from the other nearest islands, and thousands from any continent, the Pitcairn Islands and their associated sea mounts have largely been protected by distance from the worst effects of modern human fishing, a fact discovered by Enric and his team with support from the Pew Global Ocean Legacy, and revealed in an upcoming film on NatGeo Wild.
As reported in this week’s Sunday Times, when the 52 inhabitants of Pitcairn saw for themselves through the team’s reports and photography the natural treasures beneath the waves surrounding their tiny home, they unanimously voted to protect the ecosystem by banning commercial fishing from their “exclusive economic zone,” the 200-mile-radius area around each of their four islands.
It is now up to the UK’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office to decide whether to implement the plan, which would create the largest marine reserve in the world. To help make the case, Enric will be in Britain this Wednesday for the world premiere screening of the film, giving Londoners the first glimpse among outsiders of the real “bounty” hidden in Pitcairn’s waters.
During Enric’s presentation in Washington, D.C. on Monday, he put it all into perspective. “This is a story,” he began, “of rebellion, romance, isolation, exploration, destiny–and finally, a story of hope.”