In March 2010, Oceana teamed up with National Geographic and the Waitt Foundation in a preliminary expedition to Salas y Gómez. Using an underwater robot (ROV), the groups recorded the first ever high-definition images of the seabed, more than 100 meters deep.
The scientists on the expedition noted that the area contained a great abundance of marine wildlife in this little-studied ecosystem. They found populations of vulnerable species such as sharks and lobsters, much larger than in the depleted ecosystem in nearby Easter Island, which is not protected from fishing. In addition, the scientists found unexpectedly high biodiversity in deeper waters.
After the expedition, Oceana and National Geographic presented a proposal to President Piñera advocating the protection of the entire exclusive economic zone, a total of 411,717 square kilometers around the island. The Fisheries Committee of Chile’s Senate supported the recommendation unanimously.
Oceana and National Geographic completed a follow-up expedition in 2011 to develop an exhaustive baseline of the ocean ecosystem and survey the seamounts that are not included in the current park.
Want more? See photos from the expeditions.