Photo: Underwater View of Raindrops Hitting the Ocean Surface

You often don’t have to go far below the surface of the ocean to escape the turbulence of waves and storms, but the view of raindrops dimpling and rippling the surface is a graceful reminder of the wildness above. (Photo by Andrew Howley/NGS) [Click for wallpaper.]Diving in just two meters of water in a lagoon, the heavy rain above was still audible.

When we looked up the usual ribbon pattern of gentle sunlit waves had been transformed into this rapidly changing, bubbling, sliding, swelling, hypnotic surface.

Such sights on an average day would be enough to write home about, but on a Pristine Seas expedition with National Geographic Explorer-in-Residence Enric Sala, they are “merely” an awe-inspiring backdrop for the search to locate and identify all the many sea creatures inhabiting a part of the ocean virtually untouched by human activity.

Enric and team have now returned from their latest journey: an exploration of the Russian Arctic archipelago of Franz Josef Land, where they shared the waters with thousands of walruses, and the land with dozens of polar bears.

Here at National Geographic headquarters they will be presenting their preliminary findings today. But you don’t need to wait for a final report to experience their journey. Follow the adventure as it occurred and was chronicled in words and stunning photos in their updates from the field.



Interactive Map of All 8 Pristine Seas Expeditions




Meet the Author
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.