Changing Planet

Ascension Island: Pristine Seas Heads to the Mountains!

Photo courtesy Ascension Island Government

Of course, this being Pristine Seas, these mountains are in the deep sea—but mountains they are.

We are headed to Ascension Island, a tiny volcanic island in the South Atlantic, midway between Brazil and Africa. It’s a powerful place where the deep sea and remote mountains collide, leaving the island as the small visible tip of a massive 10,500-foot (3,200-meter) mountain. The underwater mountain range Ascension Island sits on is the Mid-Atlantic Ridge, itself part of the longest mountain range in the world!

The Atlantic Ocean Floor. Map credit National Geographic Creative

To study this challenging region the Pristine Seas team have joined forces with the British Antarctic Survey and the Ascension Island Government aboard the Antarctic science support vessel the RRS James Clark Ross. The team will sail 1,200 miles (1,900 kilometers) from Recife, Brazil to Ascension Island where they will complete a comprehensive science survey of the deep ocean surrounding the island including its isolated biodiversity hotspots, the seamounts.

The RRS James Clark Ross. Photo by Pete Bucktrout
Photo courtesy Ascension Island Government

The water is too deep for diving, even for the Pristine Seas divers! So the team will be using their drop-cameras and pelagic cameras (which hover in the water column) along with a full range of remote-sensing equipment including scientific trawls, plankton nets, acoustic arrays, CTD devices (to measure conductivity, temperature, and depth), lander cameras, and Swath bathymetry to accurately map the seabed and seamounts.

Photo courtesy Ascension Island Government

We’ll be posting our progress and discoveries here throughout the expedition—so please check in regularly and join us at sea!

Read all Ascension Island 2017 posts.

This expedition is a collaboration among the Ascension Island Government, National Geographic Pristine Seas, the British Antarctic Survey, the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, and The Blue Marine Foundation.


Paul Rose is an ardent explorer, television presenter, journalist, author, and Vice President of the Royal Geographical Society, and an Expedition Leader on the Pristine Seas team.
  • Steve Weber

    Sounds exciting, we’ll be following you. Our son Sam is on board! Bon voyage

  • Dorsey Evans

    I spent a couple of years living on Ascension. The most difficult realization is that except for St. Helena, there is nothing but water in any direction for a couple of thousand miles. You really feel isolated.

  • Diana

    Shockingly traumatic is an understatement when one reads of such vast amounts of oceanic destruction. It is with heartfelt fondness and admiration that I chose to follow your courageous journey to help save our planets marine life. And, likewise, it is emotionally rewarding to be able to effectively utilize the majestic marine life photos and this teams accomplishments in my own profession to help my patients through their own journey of healing and to illustrate the dynamic richness of making a difference! You are true hero’s!!

  • Diana

    With heartfelt endearment and genuine admiration, I chose to follow this teams journey to protect our worlds marine life. I am honored to effectively utilize, in my own profession, the majestic aquatic photos and the teams accomplishments to help my patients through their own journey of recovery and to teach the dynamic richness of making a difference!! You are true hero’s!!

  • Linda stritch

    I will be following you my don matt is also on board . Safe journey

  • Barbara England

    I will be following your fantastic research project. My son Andy is also on board JCR.

  • Steven James Stewart

    I worked there for 6 years and I learned to scuba dive there as well good luck to you all.It is a beautiful place.

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