Skip to main content
Dr. Enric Sala Pristine Seas
2021 Finalist
Revive Our

Pristine Seas

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.

Other Finalists in Revive Our Oceans

Learn About the Earthshots

and Restore

By 2030, we choose to ensure that, for the first time in human history, the natural world is growing – not shrinking – on our planet. 

This Earthshot focuses on three main areas of interest: 

  1. Protecting areas of high biodiversity such as forests, wetland, peatlands and wildlife corridors
  2. Restoring damaged ecosystems
  3. Feeding people while protecting nature
Learn more about this Earthshot

Clean Our

By 2030 we choose to ensure that everyone in the world breathes clean, healthy air – at World Health Organization standard or better. 

This Earthshot focuses on three main areas of interest: 

  1. Engaging citizens in data collection and clean air policies
  2. Preventing the burning of fields, forests and waste
  3. Transitioning to clean transportation for all
Learn more about this Earthshot

Revive Our

By 2030, we choose to repair and preserve our oceans for future generations. 

This Earthshot focuses on three main areas of interest: 

  1. Protecting and restoring coastal ecosystems
  2. Replenishing fish populations
  3. Reducing demand for fishmeal
Learn more about this Earthshot

Build a

By 2030, we choose to build a world where nothing goes to waste, where the leftovers of one process become the raw materials of the next – just like they do in nature. 

This Earthshot focuses on three main areas of interest: 

  1. Reducing food loss from farm to fork
  2. Phasing out single-use and non-recycled plastics
  3. High-value circularity in fashion and electronics
Learn more about this Earthshot

Fix Our

We choose to fix the world’s climate by cutting out carbon: building a carbon neutral economy that lets every culture, community and country thrive. 

This Earthshot focuses on three main areas of interest: 

  1. Creating an equitable clean energy future
  2. Addressing non-CO2 greenhouse gas emissions
  3. Decarbonising hard to abate sectors
Learn more about this Earthshot
The Earthshot Prize