An Ocean's Bounty


The government of Britain recently announced the designation of the world's largest marine reserve in the waters surrounding Pitcairn Island, a British overseas territory in the South Pacific. One of the remotest populated islands in the world, Pitcairn is best known as the final refuge of mutineers who, on April 28, 1789, seized control of the HMS Bounty, a British naval vessel on a mission to transport breadfruit plants from Tahiti to the West Indies.

A scientific expedition mounted by the National Geographic Society and Pew in March 2012 found the waters surrounding Pitcairn dazzling in diversity, harboring an estimated 1,249 species of marine life, including 365 species of fish (two of which are found nowhere else in the world), 22 species of whales and dolphins, two species of sea turtles, and what is believed to be the world's deepest living plant -- a species of encrusting coralline algae found 382 meters below sea level. With the Pitcairn designation, roughly 1.5 percent of the world's oceans are fully protected. However, this is far less than the 30 percent that marine scientists say is necessary to preserve a healthy representative sample of the Earth's ocean environment.

Joshua Reichert, an executive vice president at The Pew Charitable Trusts, wrote about the Pitcairn designation on The Huffington Post. Read his "Ocean Bounty" opinion editorial to learn more about what this victory means for the island’s community and its waters.

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