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Dr. Enric Sala Pristine Seas
Revive Our
Oceans
2021 Finalist

Pristine Seas

Area of Impact:
Global
Nominated by:
Oceano Azul Foundation,
PDIE Group,
REV Ocean

Human impact is pushing the ocean towards a devastating tipping point. Pristine Seas, an ocean conservation program, is leading the charge to avert catastrophe.

Their Story

The project was founded by Dr. Enric Sala, National Geographic’s Explorer in Residence. A former university professor, Sala grew up by the Mediterranean Sea, where he saw the destruction wrought on the marine world first-hand.

In 2008, Sala founded Pristine Seas, bringing together an expert team of scientists, filmmakers and policy experts, with the aim to protect 30% of our oceans by 2030. It has already produced over 200 peer-reviewed scientific publications and 30 documentary films to inspire others to action.

So far, Pristine Seas has worked with local communities, Indigenous Peoples, governments and partners to establish 26 marine reserves worldwide, across an area over twice the size of India. Pristine Seas is working with partners to help protect 30% of our ocean by 2030.

Since becoming an Earthshot Prize Finalist, Pristine Seas has been profiled in major media outlets including People magazine and National Geographic, and has embarked on expeditions to Colombia in partnership with the Government, and to the Canadian Arctic in partnership with Inuit communities and First Nations. 

Since the first Earthshot Prize, Pristine Seas received a $20 million grant from the Bezos Earth Fund to help establish new marine reserves in the central and western Pacific Ocean, and additional funding from Bloomberg Philanthropies, Don Quixote Foundation, Brandon Green, Inclusive Capital Partners Foundation, Lindblad Expeditions, The Campbell Foundation, The Philip Stephenson Foundation, LGT-Venture Philanthropy and the Dutch Postcode Lottery.  

Earlier research by Pristine Seas and the Oceano Azul Foundation led to the government of Portugal expanding a protected area around the Selvagens Islands to create the largest fully protected marine reserve in Europe in November 2021. 

Their work with local partners led the government of Costa Rica to expand their Cocos Island National Park 27 times in size in December 2021, protecting vital areas for endangered species such as sharks and sea turtles. In addition, their research informed the expansion of Colombia’s Malpelo Sanctuary of Flora and Fauna, and the creation of the Bajo Nuevo and Serranilla marine reserves, in June 2022.

Their Impact So Far

Since becoming a Finalist, Pristine Seas have taken their oceanic conservation work to incredible new levels.

FUNDING

In September 2022, Pristine Seas became a partner of Bloomberg Philanthropies’ Bloomberg Ocean Initiative, receiving a funding commitment of almost $10m (£8.9m) over four years, supporting the team’s efforts to protect 30 per cent of seas by 2030.

KEY MILESTONES

The Pristine Seas team embarked on a new five-year global expedition, with a mission to explore and document regions of the western Pacific Ocean.

2024 Impact Report cover download box

Read the 2024 Impact Report

Download our 2024 Impact Report and dive into the details of what our global community has achieved to date.

Other 2021 Revive Our Oceans Finalists

The Earthshot Prize