Portugal creates Europe’s largest fully protected marine reserve – National Geographic Society newsroom


2,677 square kilometers protected around the Selvagens Islands

November 29, 2021 — Today, the government of Portugal extended a marine protected area around the Selvagens Islands, creating the largest fully protected marine reserve in Europe at 2,677 square kilometers. The Selvagens Islands are a small archipelago in the North Atlantic located halfway between Madeira and the Canary Islands.

National Geographic Pristine Seas surveyed the Selvagens Islands in September 2015 in partnership with Oceano Azul and the Waitt Foundation. During their expedition, the team conducted what was among the first underwater surveys of the ecosystem – from shallows to depths – and filmed the biodiversity around the islands. Using high-tech equipment, including pelagic pelagic cameras and diving cameras, the team was able to assess pelagic communities and deep-water habitats in addition to the shallow flora and fauna observed. during dives. From their observations of the ecosystem, they found that the open waters around the islands were a vital staging point for migrating fish and mammals in the Atlantic, while the nearshore waters provided important habitat for fish. fry.

“We know it is essential to protect the migratory corridors on which marine life depends. This newly created marine reserve will ensure that the impressive underwater biodiversity of the Selvagens Archipelago is protected and will continue to thrive, ”said Paul Rose, National Geographic Pristine Seas Expedition Leader.

With the creation of the Selvagens Islands Marine Reserve, Pristine Seas supported the creation of 25 marine reserves around the world. Currently, less than 8 percent of the ocean is currently protected, the project aims to work with local communities, governments and partners to protect at least 30 percent of the ocean by 2030, dramatically increasing conservation oceans to mitigate climate change and ensure a healthier planet for all.

About National Geographic Pristine Seas

National Geographic Pristine Seas is an exploration, research and media project founded and led by National Geographic Explorer in the Enric Sala Residence. The Pristine Seas team is made up of determined scientists, policy experts and filmmakers who work to inspire the creation of protected areas where marine life can thrive, while ensuring effective management for years to come. Pristine Seas helped inspire the creation of 25 marine reserves, totaling over 6.5 million square kilometers. Learn more at nationalgeographic.org/pristineseas.


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