Changing Planet

Anniversary of Mutiny on the “Bounty”: Pitcairn Island Photos

223 years ago this weekend, Fletcher Christian and 17 other  sailors held the domineering Captain Bligh at bayonet point against the mast of His Majesty’s Armed Vessel Bounty in the most famous mutiny in history. One month ago, National Geographic embarked on a journey through their footsteps, but with the very different goal of studying the pristine coral reefs of the area (read blogs).

Bligh was set adrift in the ship’s small launch with 18 loyal shipmates, a compass, his journals, some tools, supplies, cutlasses, and food, rum, wine, and water. He navigated the castaways through the open sea some 3000 miles to safety in Timor, and then continued to Britain to begin his attempts to bring all the mutineers to justice at the gallows.

Fletcher Christian led the Bounty back to “Otaheite” where they once again enjoyed laid back island life (and women) until fear of discovery drove them to find a new home where they’d never be discovered by the British law.

That island was Pitcairn. 50 descendants of the mutineers and their Tahitian wives live there to this day. In 1957 National Geographic’s Luis Marden voyaged to Pitcairn and discovered the last remnants of the Bounty in the waters of the island’s bay (read original article, see photos). Now, over the past several weeks, NG Explorer-in-Residence Enric Sala has led an expedition to survey the sea-life in the area’s nearly un-touched waters (read blogs, see photos).

In the gallery above, see photos from this most recent expedition, meet some of the locals, see some of the sights, and get a sense of what remains on Pitcairn Island more than two centuries after the legendary mutiny.


More From the Pitcairn Islands Expedition

Top Fish Photos From Pitcairn Island

Photo Gallery: Strange and Beautiful Algae

Photo Gallery: Oeno, the Kingdom of the Groupers

Remnants of a Lost Civilization

Hiking to Christian’s Cave

Rock Climbing for Rock Art

Mike Fay’s Pitcairn Journal

Account of a Typical Morning

Watch Slideshow and Interview With Enric Sala From the Field

Read All Pristine Seas: Pitcairn Posts in Order



Andrew Howley is a longtime contributor to the National Geographic blog, with a particular focus on archaeology and paleoanthropology generally, and ancient rock art in particular. In 2018 he became Communications Director at Adventure Scientists, founded by Nat Geo Explorer Gregg Treinish. Over 11 years at the National Geographic Society, Andrew worked in various ways to share the stories of NG explorers and grantees online. He also produced the Home Page of for several years, and helped manage the Society's Facebook page during its breakout year of 2010. He studied Anthropology with a focus on Archaeology from the College of William & Mary in Virginia. He has covered expeditions with NG Explorers-in-Residence Mike Fay, Enric Sala, and Lee Berger. His personal interests include painting, running, and reading about history. You can follow him on Twitter @anderhowl and on Instagram @andrewjhowley.
  • Constanze Hoffmann

    Thank you for the intereting reports and beautiful pics from Pitcairn. I follow it with great interest, because I was on the island in March.
    Have a great time
    Constanze from Germany

  • […] Anniversary of Mutiny on the “Bounty”:… Apr. 27, 2012 (0) News Watch » […]

  • […] On the 2012 expedition, Sala and his team discovered several new species of fish by dropping cameras into deep water. A larger effort is likely to discover hundreds of new animals there, he says. (See photos from Sala’s expedition showing life on Pitcairn today.) […]

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