National Geographic Books’ ‘Pristine Seas’ Reveals Last Untouched Corners of the Ocean and What We Must Do to Save Them

Picture of book cover

Hidden places exist in our oceans that remain untouched by humankind, offering a dazzling glimpse into the natural state of the sea. In PRISTINE SEAS: Journeys to the Ocean’s Last Wild Places (National Geographic Books; ISBN: 978-1426216114; Sept. 22, 2015; ), National Geographic Explorer-in-Residence Dr. Enric Sala takes readers on a breathtaking journey to 10 wild “pristine seas” — waters completely unaffected by human activity. Showcasing these rare aquatic gems, Sala emphasizes the dangers they face and the protection they deserve.

Sala created the Pristine Seas program with National Geographic in 2008 to find, explore and protect the last wild places in our oceans. He’s had great success: Already, leaders around the world have been inspired by Sala’s work to take action in the fight to preserve our oceans by establishing protected marine reserves.

Through spectacular photos and thoughtful essays, PRISTINE SEAS displays the thriving but endangered environments that Sala is working to protect — from the shark-rich waters off of Costa Rica’s Coco Island to bobbing walrus herds in Russia’s frozen Franz Josef Land — and tells the story of how a few determined scientists, explorers, photographers and key partners joined efforts to inspire change around the globe.

Pristine ecosystems provide a window into the past, revealing what oceans looked like before over-fishing and pollution took their toll. Sala found that healthy oceans feature an inverted food chain pyramid: They are teeming with predators like sharks. Unlike anything we are used to observing in a healthy ocean ecosystem, top predators outweigh their prey. This glimpse into the past gives an encouraging vision for the future. Through Sala’s conservation efforts working with key partners and world leaders, PRISTINE SEAS offers hope that our oceans can be protected for generations to come and once again returned to their natural state.

As Sala writes in the introduction, “We need to save these pristine places before it is too late, before they vanish, unnoticed.”

“Pristine Seas: The Ocean’s Last Wild Places,” a free photography exhibition at the National Geographic Museum in Washington, D.C., will open Sept. 16. Additionally, Sala will share behind-the-scenes adventures from his Pristine Seas expeditions with National Geographic Live audiences in in New York on Oct. 20, Los Angeles on Oct. 29 and Washington, D.C., on Nov. 19. On Sept. 20 at 9 p.m. ET/8 p.m. CT, Nat Geo WILD will air “Behind Russia’s Frozen Curtain,” a program that follows Sala’s expedition to remote Franz Josef Land. The PRISTINE SEAS book reel is available here.

About the Author

Enric Sala is the founder and leader of National Geographic’s Pristine Seas. His more than 100 scientific publications, dozens of popular articles and five documentary films are widely recognized and used for conservation efforts. A former professor of marine ecology at the prestigious Scripps Institution of Oceanography, Sala now combines exploration, research, economics, policy and media to help protect the last wild places in the ocean. Sala is a 2005 Aldo Leopold Leadership Fellow, 2006 Pew Fellow in Marine Conservation, 2008 World Economic Forum Young Global Leader, 2013 Spanish Geographical Society Research Awardee, 2013 Explorers Club Lowell Thomas Award recipient and fellow of the Royal Geographical Society.

About National Geographic Books

National Geographic Books & Home Entertainment creates and distributes books, videos and other print and digital media that inform, engage and entertain diverse audiences about our world. Annually, the group publishes more than 125 new books for adults, families and kids and releases 250+ new DVDs and digital downloads of the Society’s films and TV shows, and these National Geographic titles are available in more than 35 local-language editions. While special photographic and film collections, travel books, nature shows, birding guides and atlases are a core focus of the Society’s products, books and videos dealing with subjects as diverse as animals, the human mind, history, world cultures and the cosmos are also produced. For more information, visit and

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