In August, Chile broadened the protected sea zones under its watch to create a marine park that covers an area of 300,000 square kilometers, the largest such reserve in Latin America.

Fishing and mineral extraction will now be banned from this area, which surrounds the Desventuradas islands in the Pacific Ocean.

"At a time when ocean species suffer from exploitation, pollution and phenomena such as climate change, protection of these islands is a big step for the seas of Chile and the world," said Liesbeth van der Meer, the executive director of the marine conservation organization Oceana.

Photo: Eduardo Sorenson

The proposal to create the Nazca-Desventuradas marine park took shape after an expedition made there by National Geographic magazine and Oceana in February 2013. Scientists found a unique ecosystem with no sign of human contact. The area included kelp forests, enormous tuna, deep-sea sharks, fragile corals and lobsters more than a meter long that weighed up to 8 kilograms.

A scientific report on the biodiversity of Desventuradas was developed, along with a proposal for the establishment of a large marine park. Oceana, the NGO, stresses that the Desventuradas islands, along with the Juan Fernandez islands, have the largest number of unique marine species in the world.