The Pitcairn Islands in the southern Pacific Ocean may be small and remote, but their surrounding waters are massive and home to one of the best-preserved marine ecosystems on the planet.
Pitcairn, a British Overseas Territory, is made up of four islands: Pitcairn, Henderson, Oeno, and Ducie. Situated 4,500 kilometres (2,800 miles) from New Zealand (the closest landmass), Pitcairn is one of the world’s most remote group of islands. Only Pitcairn island itself is inhabited, with a population of around 55, the majority of whom are descendants of the mutineers of the British Royal Navy’s HMAV Bounty, who with their Tahitian companions settled Pitcairn in 1790.
Since early 2011 Pew's Global Ocean Legacy project has been working with the Pitcairn islanders on the idea of establishing a large scale marine reserve within their waters. In March 2012 the National Geographic Society and Global Ocean Legacy conducted an expedition to Pitcairn to assess the health of the marine environment around all four islands, and also – for the first time ever – used dropcams, to investigate the deep water areas. Our surveys revealed incredibly healthy marine ecosystems, as well as plants and animals new to science. Threats to these waters from industrial fishing and the impacts of climate change are growing all the time and action must be taken now to prevent the future degradation of this precious seascape, and the abundant life that lives within it.