In 1790, nine British seamen found a safe haven in Pitcairn, a remote, uninhabited island in the South Pacific. They were accompanied by six Tahitian men and 11 women. The seamen were escaping from His Majesty’s justice. They were some of the crew of HMS Bounty, the infamous ship that saw the most famous mutiny in naval history. That island is so remote that the British Admiralty took 18 years to find out where the mutineers went—and when they did, they found only one survivor from the original crew.
When I first watched “Mutiny on the Bounty” on TV in my teens, I wondered what life must have been like in such remote islands in the South Pacific. I dreamed of fair weather, plentiful fruits, and impossibly beautiful women with long black hair. A paradise no one would want to escape from—especially because its waters were supposed to be infested with sharks.
Now it’s time to experience it myself. In March-April 2012 I will lead a National Geographic Expedition to the remote Pitcairn Islands—including the famous Pitcairn and its 57 inhabitants, descendants from the Bounty mutineers; and three other islands: Ducie and Oeno, picture perfect coral atolls with turquoise lagoons, and Henderson, a flat coral table covered by impenetrable vegetation.
The Expedition and Its Goals
This expedition is part of our Pristine Seas project—to explore, survey and help protect the last wild places in the ocean. It is part of our collaboration with the Global Ocean Legacy project of the Pew Environment Group. Our goal is to assess the state of Pitcairn’s marine life, and to propose recommendations to the Pitcairn community for the conservation of their resources.
Joining me will be my fellow NG Explorer-in-Residence Mike Fay, who will walk and survey the terrestrial side of the islands, and a team of top marine ecologists and filmmakers. We will scuba dive in the shallows and use cutting-edge cameras to explore the deep. We will film using high-definition cameras and a futuristic mini-helicopter built by our remote imaging department. We will share images of this forgotten world to you daily, through this blog.
We expect the waters around the Pitcairn Islands to harbor abundant marine life, including sharks and possibly unknown deep species. Explore with us through this blog and the Pristine Seas site, and we’ll find together if there is still paradise—and whether it’s really so difficult to leave it.
Relive Previous Pristine Seas Expeditions