National Geographic Society Newsroom Press Releases

National Geographic Pristine Seas to Launch Summer Expedition in Canada to Support Indigenous-led Protected Areas

During the months of July and August, the expedition will study five priority areas and take place aboard the MV Polar Prince, a 220 ft (67 meter), Indigenous-owned, Canadian-flagged research icebreaker.

Pristine Seas to work with Indigenous and regional partners, the Government of Canada and Oceans North 

Washington, DC (June 23, 2022)—National Geographic Pristine Seas, a global marine conservation initiative, will launch an expedition to priority marine conservation sites across the Arctic and Subarctic that have been identified by Indigenous leadership and the Canadian government. The expedition is in partnership with Oceans North, an organization dedicated to supporting marine conservation in partnership with Indigenous and coastal communities. Oceans North is helping facilitate the expedition in collaboration with Indigenous and regional partners and will have staff on board the vessel. 

The expedition includes a multidisciplinary team that will explore and document the unique and largely understudied underwater ecosystems and a media team that will capture footage to produce two documentary films. The science research and documentary films are intended to support marine conservation in the regions.

Scientists onboard will use various research methods, including underwater visual census, seafloor sampling, remote cameras, and environmental DNA (eDNA) analysis—a method of collecting trace biological materials to identify species. The data gathered will be used to develop a scientific paper with the expedition’s results which will contribute to deeper understanding of the biodiversity and ecosystems of James Bay, Hudson Bay and the waters of Nunatsiavut. The scientific findings will support Indigenous-led conservation.

The Pristine Seas media team has joined over thirty expeditions and produced dozens of films supporting the creation of new marine protected areas around the world by showcasing critical underwater ecosystems and the communities that depend on them. Recently, the team produced the Emmy award winning documentary “The Last Ice,” Pristine Seas’ first feature-length film that tells the story of Inuit communities fighting to protect the rapidly changing Arctic that has been their home for centuries. The two documentaries from the expedition will amplify the voices of Indigenous and regional leaders and support their efforts towards marine protection and stewardship.

During the months of July and August, the expedition will study five priority areas and take place aboard the MV Polar Prince, a 220 ft (67 meter), Indigenous-owned, Canadian-flagged research icebreaker. To follow along during the expedition, Pristine Seas will be sharing regular field updates on Instagram and Twitter.

“Pristine Seas will study and document Canada’s Arctic and sub-Arctic regions to support our Indigenous and regional partners and the Government of Canada’s shared goal to create new marine protected areas,” said Enric Sala, National Geographic Explorer in Residence and Executive Director of National Geographic Pristine Seas.

Joining Pristine Seas as partners onboard the Polar Prince during the expedition will be representatives from Indigenous and regional partners, the Government of Canada and Oceans North. Additionally, Students on Ice (SOI) Foundation, an educational organization that fosters in situ experiences for youth in the Polar Regions and beyond, will be on board with Indigenous young adults who will gain hands-on expedition, conservation and scientific research experience.

“We have been working with National Geographic Pristine Seas and Oceans North to ensure the importance of the area to Inuit, and that our historical usage and knowledge of the land, sea and ice is told through our voices. It is crucial to have traditional Inuit knowledge, coupled with science, to ensure our understanding of the area is comprehensive,” said Johannes Lampe, President, Nunatsiavut Government.

“We’re excited to partner with National Geographic Pristine Seas on this expedition, which will help support marine conservation and shine a light on the successes of local governments and communities,” said Louie Porta, Executive Director, Oceans North.

“The SOI Foundation is very pleased to be collaborating on this important journey in Canada’s North, and to help engage and inspire young leaders from communities throughout the region,” said Geoff Green, Founder, SOI Foundation.

“The Eeyou Marine Region Wildlife Board is excited and honored for the opportunity to support this global marine initiative, led by the world-renowned National Geographic Pristine Seas. This expedition will serve not only to expand our local knowledge of the wildlife and natural components that form the current climate of our marine landscape for the coastal James Bay Cree communities of the Eeyou Istchee, but will also connect our Region in a global effort to protect and conserve our Earth’s marine areas for future generations,” said Angela Coxon, Director, Eeyou Marine Region Wildlife Board.

This Pristine Seas campaign will support Indigenous-led conservation and the Canadian Government’s commitment to protecting 25% of its ocean by 2025 and 30% by 2030. Currently, Canada has protected 13% of its ocean.

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About National Geographic Pristine Seas

National Geographic Pristine Seas is an exploration, research and media project founded and led by National Geographic Explorer in Residence Enric Sala. The Pristine Seas team is comprised of determined scientists, policy experts and filmmakers who work to inspire the creation of protected areas where marine life can thrive—while ensuring effective management for years to come. Pristine Seas has helped to inspire the creation of 26 marine reserves, an area totalling over 6.5M square kilometers. Learn more at nationalgeographic.org/pristineseas.

 

About Oceans North

Oceans North is a charitable organization that fosters science- and community-based conservation in the Arctic and Atlantic regions of Canada, as well as western Greenland. The organization’s goal is to promote policies and programs that address the unprecedented environmental changes taking place in northern marine ecosystems and ensure that they are protected within the framework of Indigenous knowledge, rights and consultation.

 

About Students on Ice (SOI) Foundation

SOI’s mission is to foster globally minded youth by immersing them in Nature, in transformative learning environments, and collaborative cross-cultural journeys.  Since 1999, thousands of diverse youth from over 55 countries have participated on SOI expeditions to the Arctic and the Antarctic.  SOI is also active in supporting initiatives and partnerships focused on Ocean Literacy, Arctic Policy, Climate Change, and a Sustainable Blue Economy.

About National Geographic Society

The National Geographic Society is a global nonprofit organization that uses the power of science, exploration, education and storytelling to illuminate and protect the wonder of our world. Since 1888, National Geographic has pushed the boundaries of exploration, investing in bold people and transformative ideas, providing more than 15,000 grants for work across all seven continents, reaching 3 million students each year through education offerings, and engaging audiences around the globe through signature experiences, stories and content. To learn more, visit www.nationalgeographic.org or follow us on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook.