Bora Bora, Rangiroa, Fakarava, Mo'orea

An expedition with National Geographic



SeaLegacy dives into the Caribbean Sea to document the Dominican Republic’s vital conservation initiative to establish two new marine protected areas.

“President Luis Abinader of the Dominican Republic has protected over 30% of their extraordinary marine environment, in the process creating a marine protected area that crosses international borders. This ambitious decision should build urgent momentum for the Caribbean and indeed global action towards 30% effective protection. Blue Marine would like to thank all partners involved.”

Dan Crockett
Oceans and Climate Director, Blue Marine Foundation

*** Campaign Page in Development ***

Rooted in a profound connection with the Dominican Republic’s abundant marine life, our co-founders’ journey into storytelling began over a decade ago amidst the vast expanse of Silver Bank, situated miles from the Caribbean shores. Here, migrating humpback whales find sanctuary to nurture their young, making it the largest documented mating and calving grounds for these majestic cetaceans.

“Mothers and calves spend several months in the warm waters of the Silver Bank, off the coast of the Dominican Republic, the babies can gain the coordination and strength needed for the enormous migrations they must make to their summer feeding grounds. It is hard to articulate what a privilege it is to be in the water with a massive humpback mom, and for her to feel confident enough to let us swim so close to her calf. There is so much we can learn from nature,” shares Cristina Mittermeier.

Paul and Cristina’s firsthand experience of Silver Bank’s pivotal role in the lifecycle of whales ignited their passion to elevate their visual narratives onto the global platform. Their aim: to inspire broader conservation efforts for these sacred megafauna grounds.

Years later, Andy expanded conservation efforts into the biodiversity hotspot, extending protection to the Beata Ridge. This submarine ridge, nestled on the seabed of the southern Caribbean Sea, is a crucial habitat for species connectivity and migrating whales, turtles, sharks, dolphins, sea birds, and myriad of other species.

As they prioritized an area serving as a vital migratory, feeding, and reproductive sanctuary for diverse marine life, the question arose: How could our co-founders contribute to safeguarding the future of the Dominican Republic’s megafauna?

The mission

a humpback whale swimming in the ocean through Silver Bank, Dominican Republic

Photo by Cristina Mittermeier

Our co-founders quickly united with our committed partners, policymakers, scientists, and local community members to advocate for the establishment of marine protected areas in the Dominican Republic. This collaborative effort aimed to provide enhanced protection for the country’s marine species through impactful visual storytelling.

Establishing marine protected areas in the region presents a pivotal opportunity for the Dominican Republic to combat biodiversity loss and bolster resilience against climate change. This proactive measure entails safeguarding nearly a third of its expansive oceanic territory in perpetuity. Notably, the nation’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) spans roughly seven times the size of its landmass, underscoring the critical importance of prioritizing and advancing marine protections. In collaboration with esteemed partners including the Blue Marine Foundation, Blue Nature Alliance, Mission Blue, Ocean Born Foundation, and Yachts for Science, we leveraged the power of visual storytelling to amplify the voices of dedicated individuals driving forward discussions on marine protection areas to a global audience.

In June 2022, the Dominican Republic unveiled plans for an expanded network of marine sanctuaries at the United Nations Ocean Conference. This commitment aligned with the global 30×30 initiative, aiming to protect 30 percent of the nation’s waters by 2030. Such efforts are crucial for securing a sustainable future for the Dominican Republic’s precious marine ecosystems.

The results

hammerhead shark swimming in the Caribbean

On April 11, 2024, the Dominican Republic heralds a new chapter in Caribbean marine conservation!

We’re currently working on enhancing this expedition page. Keep an eye out for updates as our expedition progresses and our impactful media campaigns unfold. We appreciate your patience!

The government of the Dominican Republic announced that it will expand the Marine Mammal Sanctuary of Silver and Navidad Banks and establish a new marine protected area within the Beata Ridge seamount, the Marine Sanctuary Orlando Jorge Mera, in honor of the late Former Minister of the Environment and Natural Resources.

This significant step propels the nation to a historic achievement, becoming the first Caribbean country to meet the ambitious 30×30 goal by protecting 30.8% of its ocean.

In the embrace of its vibrant biodiversity, the nation’s marine ecosystems promise a flourishing habitat for both wildlife and humanity. Through the collaborative efforts, migratory species may freely traverse the protected waters of the Dominican Republic and find safe passage through the trans-boundary marine protected area into the neighboring Cordillera Beata Natural Reserve.

Support visual storytelling for future marine protected areas by joining The Tide, our community of ocean advocates turning the tide for our shared ocean.

“The Government of the Dominican Republic has taken a momentous step toward marine conservation leadership with this evidence-based designation. It will preserve migratory pathways of key species like sperm whales and advance MPA connectivity across borders, hopefully acting as a catalyst to accelerate the establishment of a network of marine protected areas throughout the Caribbean.”

Dr. Judith Brown
Project Director, Blue Marine Foundation
Caribbean coral reef