Pitcairn Islands Expedition: Oeno, the Kingdom of the Groupers

Early this morning, the treetops of Oeno atoll appeared on the northern horizon, welcoming us to the fourth and final study area of the Pristine Seas: Pitcairn Islands Expedition.

Pitcairn was rough, with murky water and rocky bottoms, full of the herbivorous rudderfish. Ducie was a coral paradise with crystal-clear water and lots of sharks. Henderson had less coral cover but more diversity, and sharks were abundant too.

We were surprised by our two first dives at Oeno. We saw only one shark, but instead saw hundreds of groupers. Everyone loves seeing these big fish with so much personality.

Manu San Felix, Nathan Lefevre, and I were diving with rebreathers. We laid on the bottom, not moving or making bubbles – and the curious fishes came to check us out as though we were aliens from another planet, swimming around us and looking at us with big, amazed eyes. What a first impression of Oeno! We cannot wait to dive again tomorrow morning.

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.
  • Pania

    NatGeo you are my all time favorite magazine in the world and seeing articles of the Island where I grew up and the Islands I’ve visited as a child, brings back so many memories. The photo’s and the articles that you have in all of the issues you bring out, keep me occupied and entertained for hours.

  • Sue Christian-Sloss

    I only wish my father, Richard, was still alive to see your fantastic underwater photos of the seas that he fished as a youth on Pitcairn.
    Thank you for giving us these incredible visual images of what pristine, healthy and untouched marine eco-systems look like!

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