Shot by @manusanfelix_official | Today we are reminded that the ocean, like all water on our unique planet, is inextricably tied to life on Earth: it provides food, security, and livelihood for billions of people worldwide, and has the remarkable ability to do this all sustainably if given the chance. We swim in it, sail it, drink it, breathe the oxygen that is created by it. It sustains not only the life that we see around us, but entire worlds that lie under its surfaces. That's why we need to protect it, to sustain it in return.
This photo was taken in the reefs off the coast of Niue during our expedition to the raised atoll last October. #WorldWaterDay#WWD2017#PristineSeas#exploration#conservation
Shot and text by @pelayosalinas | These ocean sunfish (Mola mola) checked us out today during the last dive of our scientific expedition to the Juan Fernández Islands. Over the past two weeks we have had an unforgettable time exploring this incredible corner of our blue planet. And what could be a better farewell than a formation of these gentle ocean wanderers?
Shot by @manusanfelix_official | Flounders are abundant on the team's dives at Robinson Crusoe. This flatfish, Paralichthys fernandezianus, is an endemic species to Robinson Crusoe and Alexander Selkirk islands. Around half a meter long and well-camouflaged to the rocky sea floor, they are tireless predators!
Video and text by @jonbetzfilms | Steep cliffs loomed above the crew as the Pristine Seas team explored the waters around Alejandro Selkirk Island. At over 1,000 meters high, Selkirk's peaks occasionally receive snowfall. The remote island's massive and rugged features make it seem totally inaccessible and yet the island is home to a small but dedicated fishing community committed to a sustainable future for the archipelago.
Shot and text by @manusanfelix_official | After five days of diving at Alejandro Selkirk Island, we've found that the sea floor around the island is dominated by hundreds of thousands of long-spine sea urchins. It's difficult to know why this is, but it is a spectacular sight to see large sea stars hunting them!
Video and text by @pelayosalinas | Our invited guest on the pelagic cams today is...: the shortfin mako shark (Isurus oxyrinchus). This is the fastest of all sharks, with speed bursts of over 70 km per hour! This shot was recorded around Alejandro Selkirk Island in the Juan Fernández archipelago during our ongoing expedition. The video is actually played at a third of the real speed so everyone can appreciate the beauty of this fast ocean wanderer. Targeted by both commercial and sport fisheries, the shortfin mako is presently classified as vulnerable by the IUCN. With 50% of females reaching sexual maturity at 18 years of age, and a life span of over 30 years, this species is very vulnerable to unregulated fisheries. Implementing international protection measures and establishing large protected areas around oceanic islands and seamounts, where females like this one tend to aggregate to feed and/or reproduce, is essential to ensure the long term conservation of migratory sharks.
Part of our #NatGeo#pristineseas expedition to the #IslasJuanFernandez in partnership with @WaittFoundation. #conservation#exploration#bruvs#GoPro#research#oceanoptimism#expedition#sharks#nature#marinelife#AlejandroSelkirk#Chile#WaittExpedition#PlanB@WaittInstitute
Shot by @EnricSala | An octopus grasps the rocky sea floor at Alejandro Selkirk Island. A local fisherman observed that when they catch more moray eels, he sees an increase in the octopus population. This predator-prey balance is one example of the close linkages within the marine ecosystem.
Shot by @manusanfelix_official | Today @enricsala and the Pristine Seas team, and the @WaittFoundation began their first dives of the expedition to the Juan Fernández Islands. Here, at Bahía del Padre in Robinson Crusoe Island, dozens of endemic Juan Fernández fur seal pups swim in the shallow waters of this sheltered bay. The Juan Fernández fur seal is a true comeback species: following their discovery in the 1500s, these seals were heavily hunted for their pelt, blubber, and meat, and were then considered to be extinct until a small group of the fur seals was rediscovered in 1965. These days their population is estimated to be around 140,000 thanks to to Chile's protection of the species and the abundance of food in these waters.
Shot by @jonbetzfilms | Engineer Eric Berkenpas tests the newly developed "miniature" drop-cam before assembling it for the first day of exploration at Alejandro Selkirk Island. Developed by National Geographic's Remote Imaging team, the deep ocean drop cameras are used to explore depths well beyond the scuba diver's limits. This mini can reach a depth of 6 kilometers!
Shots by @jonbetzfilms and @manusanfelix_official | Today expedition leader @EnricSala and our Pristine Seas team begin a two-week expedition to Chile's Juan Fernández archipelago, lying about 600 km west of Valparaíso. Aboard the trusty Plan B and in partnership with @WaittFoundation the team will conduct the first comprehensive baseline survey of the waters around Alejandro Selkirk Island and explore the deep-sea and open ocean environments around Robinson Crusoe and Santa Clara Islands. Separated from continental South America by the Humboldt Current, the islands are home to many rare and endemic plants and animals, including the Juan Fernández fur seal. Follow us here to see more from the expedition to these unique islands and the underwater world around them!
Expedition to Tristan da Cunha | Shot and text by @christhompson_photo | In the waters of Tristan da Cunha, a blue shark inspects the camera on one of the Pristine Seas team's mid-water camera rigs. Blue sharks (Prionace glauca) are one of the great ocean wanderers. These slim graceful sharks with large eyes and brilliant blue backs are known to make journeys of up to 9,200 kilometers, with some individuals making multiple trans-Atlantic crossings. Unfortunately these incredible travelers are the most heavily fished shark in the world, with many millions taken annually as bycatch and for their highly-prized fins. The footage collected on our pelagic cameras, however, suggests that the waters of Tristan da Cunha may provide a refuge for these gentle giants; they harbor more blue sharks than we have seen in any of the other locations we have sampled all over the world!
Expedition to Cape Horn | Shot by @EnricSala | Today is the team's last day on this incredible expedition through the Magallanes region and to Cape Horn. Here, lush kelp forests fill the frame underwater at Cape Horn. In our dives over the past two weeks we have encountered more unique and healthy marine ecosystems than we could have imagined.
Expedition to Cape Horn | Shot by @manusanfelix_official | Yesterday, the team reached the legendary Cape Horn! Previously a part of the clipper routes that transported much of the world's trade, Cape Horn marked a gateway between the Atlantic and Pacific oceans. For centuries, the reputation of rounding the Horn reached cities, ports, and bars around the world. Few, if any, routes in the history of navigation have been as feared and as attractive - or claimed so many lives, riches, and ships - as the passage around Cape Horn.
An underwater view reveals an entirely different world off the coast of the Horn: a forest of kelp populated by sea stars, sponges, various Bryozoa species, and sea lions.