Desventuradas Islands

The Desventuradas Islands. Despite their name, meaning “unfortunate” in Spanish, the islands of San Ambrosio and San Félix lie amid some of the most pristine waters in the eastern Pacific.

Pristine Seas founder Enric Sala co-led an expedition to these remote islands in collaboration with M/V Argo and DEEPSEE Submersible Their goal was to explore, survey, and film the islands’ mysterious underwater ecosystem, from the surface to thousands of meters below.

Prior to the expedition, very little scientific information existed about the marine environment of the Desventuradas. Not a single underwater photo could be found, and the team’s divers were among the first to explore the unknown territory.

Over the course of the three-week expedition, they used state-of-the-art technology—including closed-circuit rebreathers, drop cams, and the DEEPSEE submersible—and captured hundreds of hours of video and thousands of photos.

On October 5, 2015, President Michelle Bachelet announced the creation of the Nazca-Desventuradas Marine Park, the largest marine reserve in the Americas, encompassing 300,000 square kilometers of ocean surrounding San Ambrosio and San Félix. Fishing and other extractive activities are off-limits inside the park.

The new protected area tripled the percentage of Chile's waters that are under the strongest protections. The Chilean Navy, which maintains a small garrison on San Félix, helps to enforce the no-fishing rules.

MAP BY NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC SOCIETY STAFF

36

Submersible Dives, documenting giant lobsters weighing at least 15 pound.

1

Home to endemic sea lion, once thought extinct.

300,000

Square Km
Declared as reserve area of no taking zone.

Project Numbers

Expedition Gallery

© Shmulik Bloom Photography