The Pristine Seas team has traveled to a dozen of the most untouched parts of the ocean, studying marine life and producing films that share our discoveries with the world. Along the way, the leaders of five of these sites have gone on to declare large no-take marine protected areas that ensure these places will retain their historic character and diversity and serve as safe havens where marine life of all kinds can be free from human interference and exploitation.
For our latest expedition, we’re in the Seychelles, an archipelago just north of Madagascar, where a new debt-swap deal has given the government an opportunity to protect their unique marine assets and possibly create the Indian Ocean’s second largest marine reserve.
While our main focus is the life underwater, we’re still always connected to the people who live in these places above the waves. Our first experience here made that connection as clear as ever.
A Truly Perfect Moment
Dragging a traditional Seychellois pirogue fishing boat heavily loaded with a seine, or large net, across the beach to the water’s edge is hard manual labor. You know the feeling when seeing people working so hard—our natural instinct is to help. But the fishermen on this beach have done it thousands of times, so I stayed out of the way.
As I stood back to absorb the moment, though, I immediately caught the eye of the lead fisherman, a powerful, great looking guy, and in that instant I knew it was Uneil, a superkeen young Seychelles Marine Parks employee whom I had worked with here 13 years ago.
After the obvious greeting—“Uneil! I remember you when you were this big!”—we hugged, whooped, and swapped stories of bygone days on Sainte Anne Island, and the world took a beautiful pause; nothing existed except Uneil and I standing on Beau Vallon beach, one of the most spectacular beaches in the world. The warm ocean breeze, the sound of waves breaking on the white sand, and the perfect endless blue of the sky made for a fabulous scene, and being among traditional fishing activity made this a truly perfect moment.
Meeting Uneil has reconnected me to the Seychellois. They are a people of the ocean and their respect for nature is a spirit that will guide us as we depart from Mahé today and sail 600 miles for the official beginning of our expedition at the remote islands of Assumption, Astove, Cosmoledo, and Aldabra.
Please join our expedition by following our posts here. Our plans are ambitious, the scientific targets are exceptional, and there will be plenty of new discoveries and adventures to come!
This expedition is led by National Geographic in collaboration with the Seychelles Island Foundation (SIF), the Island Conservation Society (ICS), the Islands Development Company (IDC) and the Waitt Foundation.
Thanks to Pristine Seas sponsors Blancpain and Davidoff Cool Water.