National Geographic’s Ocean Now is an exploration, research, and conservation project that aims to find, survey, and help protect the last healthy, undisturbed places in the ocean. By carefully studying how marine ecosystems work without human interference, we can learn how to help healthy reefs thrive, help unhealthy reefs recover, and better preserve the ocean, which covers more than two-thirds of our planet.
In 2005 and 2007, Dr. Enric Sala and a team of scientists traveled to the Northern Line Islands in the North Pacific. There, the crew discovered a marine world that science never knew existed—one that hadn’t yet been explored and damaged by humans: with an ecosystem little changed from its condition hundreds of years ago.
“We started at an island with 10,000 people and very degraded marine life,” Sala explains. “We continued to an island with 2,500 people, then to one with ten people, and finally to one with zero people and a virtually intact ecosystem. It was a trip back in time, from degraded to pristine.”