The latest Pristine Seas expedition is to Clipperton Island—the only atoll in the eastern Pacific. Clipperton is a wild, remote, and highly unusual place, with deep offshore seamounts that are as of yet unexplored. The pristine outer waters are home to sharks, tunas, manta rays, and whale sharks. While the shoreline and outer reefs are bursting with color and life, the inner lagoon is so rich with algae that its deepest waters reach high temperatures and are toxic. Exploring this rare phenomenon is essential, but challenging for the team.
The team will use the "DeepSee" submersible, remote drop and stereo pelagic cameras, scuba diving surveys, land surveys, and drone cameras to explore, scientifically survey, and record this unique environment.
In a Bubble of Air in the Deep Pacific
When you are aboard our three-person submarine you sit inside a completely clear sphere giving unrivaled views and the most obvious, wonderful feeling of living in a bubble of air in the deep ocean.
The descent was spectacular. Five silky sharks accompanied us down to 150 feet, then as we went through the thermocline at 240 feet we lost the blue light, moved into the darkness, and hit a dense “soup of life” layer full of plankton—the very start of oceanic life.
In total darkness we arrived at a steep wall bursting with bright yellow sponges, delicate cup corals, groups of scorpion fish, and a surprise moray eel. We survey by writing in a log book to record everything we see. We film the entire dive and use lasers to help us size our discoveries.
Three hours might sound like a long dive, but it goes fast and the ascent into the light and these evocative, most beautiful blue waters comes too soon.
Exploring the deep waters surrounding Clipperton Island in a submarine is not only a tremendous privilege, it is essential so that we can understand the complete ecosystem of this outstanding island.
PHOTOGRAPHS BY DAVE MCALONEY