A green turtle swims safe from poachers in the waters around Millennium Atoll. Turtles nest unbothered on the remote beaches of the southern Line Islands, whereas in most other places they are killed for meat and their eggs are collected.
In pristine areas sharks tend to inspect the odd human visitor carefully. These young blacktip reef sharks surrounded the Pristine Seas team as we waded across a reef flat in the lagoon of Millennium Atoll.
Two cling gobies spend their entire lives among the tentacles of a sea lily, a close relative of sea stars that extends its tentacles to capture plankton in the water.
After spending many hours digging and laying eggs at Huon Island, a female green turtle makes it back to the sea as the sun rises.
The bigeye catalufa grows to 30 centimeters long and inhabits deeper rocky reefs off Cocos Island. This school was photographed at Bajo Alcyone, a seamount that peaks at a depth of 30 meters.
The Republic of Palau claims the word “pristine” as part of its official slogan. Underwater, healthy coral reefs thrive, and above spectacular limestone islands lie covered in lush tropical jungle.
Sunlight streams through the water, backlighting a large gorgonian. These colonial animals bear branches formed by thousands of small polyps, each of which consists simply of a mouth, a small digestive pouch, and eight tentacles.
The Juan Fernández lobster, a species found exclusively at the Juan Fernández and the Desventuradas islands, can reach a weight of more than 8 kilograms, or 17 pounds. These creatures are found abundantly at depths of 100 to 200 meters.
Pierre-Yves Cousteau, youngest son of Jacques-Yves Cousteau, observes a Mediterranean dusky grouper at Cabrera Archipelago Maritime-Terrestrial National Park. Protected areas like Cabrera allow large fish to come back and attract divers, who cannot see such large fish anywhere else in the Mediterranean.
Text and images excerpted from Pristine Seas: Journeys to the Ocean's Last Wild Places, by Enric Sala. Used with permission.