National Geographic : 2012 Dec
NEXT PHOTO: ENRIC SALA. NGM MAPS The discovery of a 62-mile PHYTOPLANKTON BLOOM beneath Arctic ice surprised scientists who thought sea ice limited the growth of microscopic marine plants. • The largest 3 D MAP OF THE UNIVERSE, created by the Sloan Digital Sky Survey III, includes galaxies up to six billion light-years from Earth. • GIRAFFE SPOTS reveal clues about the animal's age, darkening around puberty, a study found. • A rare copy of a 1507 Martin Waldseemüller world map known as AMERICA'S BIRTH CERTIFICATE turned up in Munich. ET CETERA Two if by Sea Explorers-in-Residence Enric Sala and Mike Fay are tag teaming in the name of the unprotected oceans. Sala dives and documents, while naturalist Fay walks islands and atolls to assess connections between locals on land and the surrounding seas. The combined data help the duo propose sanctuaries sustainable for people and ocean life under the Pristine Seas project. In 2012, Pristine Seas and partner Pew Environment Group started a process of protecting the 200 miles around the Pitcairn Islands. At up to 320,000 square miles, it would be one of the world's largest marine reserves, include at least eight new species of fish, and maybe change the way oceans are understood. "Most studies focus on wrecked seas," Sala says. "Places like the Pitcairns show us how oceans can be." ---Johnna Rizzo SOUTH AMERICA NORTH AMERICA PACIFIC OCEAN Pitcairn Islands (U.K.) Middle-size predators like the yellow-edged lyretail prowl Oeno Island in the Pitcairns.