On Wednesday, Dec. 12, 2018, the Argentine Congress passed a bill that established two new marine protected areas (MPAs). Yaganes, south of Tierra del Fuego, and Namuncurá-Burdwood Bank II, in the south Atlantic, encompass a combined 98,000 square kilometers of protected ocean, roughly the size of Hungary. The MPAs are home to an abundance of vulnerable and threatened species such as black-browed albatrosses and South American fur seals.
The National Geographic Society Pristine Seas project led an expedition to the Yaganes region in February 2018 and participated in an expedition to Namuncurá-Burdwood Bank II led by the Argentian government in November 2018 to study and film the marine ecosystems in these areas. Their research shows how imperative it is that these biodiverse areas are protected as they are essential to our ecosystem. Take a look at some of the weird and wonderful creatures that National Geographic’s deep sea robotic cameras photographed 300 meters below the surface of the ocean in these regions.
Argentina has made impressive strides in protecting its territorial waters, but a vast amount of ocean remains unprotected. The Argentine Sea comprises 36 percent of the territory of the country, yet less than 3 percent is protected. However, the establishment of these two MPAs will triple the country’s total protected area to126,000 square kilometers. None of this would have been possible without the support of National Geographic Pristine Seas, Secretaría de Ambiente de Argentina, Administración de Parques Nacionales, Gobierno de Tierra del Fuego, Foro para la Conservación del Mar Patagónico, Oceans 5, Tompkins Conservation, and the Wyss Foundation.
As part of the Wyss Campaign for Nature, a joint effort between the National Geographic Society and the Wyss Foundation, the National Geographic Society is committed to highlighting major steps to expand protected areas like today’s action by the Argentinian government. This announcement underscores a steadfast commitment to conservation from decision-makers in Argentina, and further actions like this are needed in order to protect at least 30 percent of the planet by 2030.
A Spanish translation of this blog post is available here.