New Caledonia Expedition: A Kaleidoscope of Corals

Written by Manu San Félix

The other day, Alan Friedlander wrote that “these reefs are like windows into the past.” He was right; diving here is like taking a time machine back to an age when the ocean had no human impact and was full of sharks, tunas and groupers. A time when the marine landscape was untouched.

We are diving in one the most beautiful coral reefs we have ever seen. The reefs of the Chesterfield Islands are unique and pristine. The bottom is covered by a high diversity of hard and soft coral species that show us all the colors of the rainbow.

Sharks, the large predators of the ocean, dominate these reefs. Grey reefs, black tips, white tips, silver tips and nurse sharks swim around us in the drop-offs, inside the lagoons and between the coral pinnacles.

These reefs are remote, and we all have the feeling that they are very vulnerable, especially the larger predators like the sharks. They’re far away from the mainland, with no control of the large fishing fleets. If you drop a fishing line here, there will be a shark on your hook in a few minutes. Here, the sharks and fishes are defenseless.

Click here to view all New Caledonia expedition blog posts.

This expedition is led by National Geographic in collaboration with the Institute de Recherche pour le Development (IRD) of New Caledonia and the Waitt Institute.

Thanks to Pristine Seas sponsors Blancpain and Davidoff Cool Water.

Changing Planet

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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.