Pristine Seas

Inspiring conservation of unspoiled ocean territory around the world

The ocean—covering over 70 percent of the planet—sustains all life on Earth. It supplies more than half the oxygen we breathe and regulates the Earth’s climate. Its fisheries provide employment for 180 million people and food for billions worldwide, and it offers opportunities for recreation, education, and tourism. Here at Lindblad Expeditions-National Geographic, we believe in the importance of preserving the health of the world’s oceans. To that end, we are proud to support National Geographic’s Pristine Seas project, and have committed to donating at least $500,000 per year for five years (2014-2018) from the LEX-NG Fund to this effort.

Initiated by National Geographic Explorer-in-Residence, Dr. Enric Sala, Pristine Seas seeks to find, survey, and help protect the last wild places in the ocean. A few areas of the ocean remain relatively unaltered by humans. These pristine places are key to the health of the global ocean ecosystem. Pristine Seas works to inspire governments around the world to create protected areas in these remote places in order to conserve and restore the richness of marine life and habitat.

Pristine Seas in the High Arctic

In 2013, Dr. Enric Sala led a Pristine Seas expedition to Franz Josef Land in collaboration with Russkaya Arktika National Park, the Russian Geographical Society, and National Geographic. An international group of scientists and filmmakers assessed the pristine nature of the ocean-land ecosystem and compared its current state with historical scientific baselines and photographs obtained by explorers in the late 1800s.The scientific results of the expedition will inform the efforts of Russian authorities to preserve this unique area's globally significant biodiversity and historical value.

Climate projections forecast the total disappearance of summer sea ice in the Arctic by 2040, with the exception of one place: the "last ice area," north of Greenland and Ellesmere Island in Nunavut, which the Pristine Seas team visited in 2015. This area will likely harbor the largest concentration of Arctic wildlife that depends on the sea ice edge for survival, including bowhead whales, seals, narwhals, and polar bears. Less sea ice also means the northward expansion of fishing, shipping, mining, and drilling—emerging threats that will affect not only the wildlife but also the Inuit communities that have traditionally relied on these animals for food, dress, shelter, and energy.

To raise awareness about these dramatic changes in the high Arctic, Pristine Seas has explored Baffin Island, where the team documented the natural world, from glaciers and icebergs to polar bears and narwhals.

The Lindblad Expeditions-National Geographic (LEX-NG) Fund aims to protect the last wild places in the ocean while facilitating conservation, research, education, and community development programs in the places we explore. If you would like to learn more about projects supported by the LEX-NG Fund worldwide, please contact the Fund by email. To support our work by making a contribution to the LEX-NG Fund, click here.

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