Pristine Seas Efforts Inspire Protection of Untouched Reefs

The waters around the southern Line Islands in the Pacific Ocean are home to some of the healthiest coral reefs in the world. The government of Kiribati recently declared a 12-nautical-mile fishing exclusion zone around each of the five islands, thanks in part to the efforts of National Geographic's Pristine Seas initiative and Explorer-in-Residence Enric Sala, who led a research expedition there in 2009. "Diving at the southern Line Islands reveals what the seas once were, in all their richness and wonder," says Sala. "Coming here has reset our entire understanding of what's natural and has given us a new baseline against which to measure healthy and unhealthy reefs everywhere."