A recent expedition by National Geographic to the Pitcairn Islands group has documented an incredibly pristine reef the likes of which are almost no longer on this earth. As part of the Pristine Seas project, divers and documentarians from National Geographic surveyed the reefs, their corals, fish and reef life to create an amazing portrait of what the ocean looks like without the effects of man.
Pitcairn Island is inhabited by less than 60 people who live mostly self-sustaining lives free of development and any heavy industry. The resulting lack of fishing and exploitation of the reef resources of the Pitcairn Islands means that there is an incredible degree of coral cover, so many fish that they obscure the view, and an astounding number of sharks and other apex predators.
While we don’t have details on what specific rare or unknown species of fish or coral were discovered, one super standout creature we spotted in the video is Pocillopora zelli. Previously only known from Kiribati, Pocillopora zelli is impossible to miss because it forms these unique cells defined by curtains of branches when coral colonies grow to a certain size.
We imagine that a whole plethora of rare and unique Polynesian reef fish from the Marquesas and elsewhere likely also occur at Pitcairn Islands. There is a proposal in the British Government to create an extensive marine park out of the UK-controlled territory and we have a feeling it will happen once the magic of the Pitcairns is made public through projects like National Geographic’s Pristine Seas.