Latest NG Expedition Announced: Voyage to Pitcairn

The Background

In 1790, nine British seamen found a safe haven in Pitcairn, a remote, uninhabited island in the South Pacific. They were accompanied by six Tahitian men and 11 women. The seamen were escaping from His Majesty’s justice. They were some of the crew of HMS Bounty, the infamous ship that saw the most famous mutiny in naval history. That island is so remote that the British Admiralty took 18 years to find out where the mutineers went—and when they did, they found only one survivor from the original crew.

The Inspiration

When I first watched “Mutiny on the Bounty” on TV in my teens, I wondered what life must have been like in such remote islands in the South Pacific. I dreamed of fair weather, plentiful fruits, and impossibly beautiful women with long black hair. A paradise no one would want to escape from—especially because its waters were supposed to be infested with sharks.

Now it’s time to experience it myself. In March-April 2012 I will lead a National Geographic Expedition to the remote Pitcairn Islands—including the famous Pitcairn and its 57 inhabitants, descendants from the Bounty mutineers; and three other islands: Ducie and Oeno, picture perfect coral atolls with turquoise lagoons, and Henderson, a flat coral table covered by impenetrable vegetation.

The Expedition and Its Goals

This expedition is part of our Pristine Seas project—to explore, survey and help protect the last wild places in the ocean. It is part of our collaboration with the Global Ocean Legacy project of the Pew Environment Group. Our goal is to assess the state of Pitcairn’s marine life, and to propose recommendations to the Pitcairn community for the conservation of their resources.

Joining me will be my fellow NG Explorer-in-Residence Mike Fay, who will walk and survey the terrestrial side of the islands, and a team of top marine ecologists and filmmakers. We will scuba dive in the shallows and use cutting-edge cameras to explore the deep. We will film using high-definition cameras and a futuristic mini-helicopter built by our remote imaging department. We will share images of this forgotten world to you daily, through this blog.

We expect the waters around the Pitcairn Islands to harbor abundant marine life, including sharks and possibly unknown deep species. Explore with us through this blog and the Pristine Seas site, and we’ll find together if there is still paradise—and whether it’s really so difficult to leave it.


Relive Previous Pristine Seas Expeditions

Salas y Gómez Expedition

Cocos Island

Southern Line Islands

Northern Line Islands





Marine ecologist Dr. Enric Sala is a National Geographic Explorer-in-Residence who combines science, exploration and media to help restore marine life. Sala’s scientific publications are used for conservation efforts such as the creation of marine protected areas. 2005 Aldo Leopold Leadership Fellow, 2006 Pew Fellow in Marine Conservation, 2008 Young Global Leader at the World Economic Forum.
  • […] Latest NG Expedition Announced: Voyage to PitcairnNational GeographicIn 1790, nine British seamen found a safe haven in Pitcairn, a remote, uninhabited island in the South Pacific. They were accompanied by six Tahitian men and 11 women. The seamen were escaping from His Majesty's justice. They were some of the crew of … […]

  • Ima Ryma

    I came to Pitcairn for to see
    Where mutineers so long ago,
    From “Mutiny on the Bounty,”
    Sought haven on the T.V. show.
    An island paradise remote,
    To bring to real my T.V. dreams,
    That my tube watching does promote.
    It must be more than it all seems.
    For South Pacific Pitcairn, true,
    Some mutineer descendents live
    In tropics, polar bears run through,
    And a strange swirling mass – what give?

    Two shows I saw on T.V. crossed –
    The HMS Bounty meets Lost.

  • Marcy Mendelson

    I’m so excited and envious! I’m a Bounty geek as well and have been fascinated with Pitcairn since a child. Good luck!

  • walter j. coleman

    The man in the 1957 Louis Marden photo looks like Warren Christian. I lived with Warren and wife Millie while working there in 1967.
    Also recall that Otis Imboden,NGS photographer was just leaving the island as I was arriving.
    Lots of changes since my visit.
    Safe trip—wj coleman

  • John Wind Surridge

    I’ll look forward to this. My ancestor, William Muspratt, from my fathers side was a crew member on HMS Bounty.

  • […] Latest NG Expedition Announced: Voyage to… Feb, 28, 2012 (5) News Watch » […]




    The total number of Pitcainers living on the island has decreased to 47 with Terry Young’s passing, if it is right from the articles I have read about Pitcairn. Perhaps NG team is more accurate as you guys had just visited the island. It will be good to know they are 57.

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