The aim of the National Geographic Pristine Seas programme is to identify the most pristine areas left in the ocean and persuade governments to protect them as the remaining examples of what our seas used to look like. In turn, these areas will be important as biodiversity and genetic reservoirs as increasing proportions of the sea are hopefully protected. Once pristine, or near-pristine areas are identified, expeditions are planned to investigate the biodiversity and gauge the value in protecting the area.
The data collected on the expeditions is used to support the government, in whose jurisdiction the area lies, to provide robust marine protection, or if they are reluctant to provide protection, to try and persuade them! To date, the Pristine Seas programme has played a part of, or led the creation of 23 Marine Protected Areas totalling over 6 million square kilometres.
Each expedition allows a snapshot of the biodiversity in the area using a variety of methods including; deep sea drop cameras, mesopelagic (40-100m) baited cameras, pelagic baited cameras, fish and benthic surveys, eDNA water sampling, foraminifera sediment sampling and terrestrial plant and animal surveys.