Departing from San Jose Del Cabo, both Clipperton Big Migrations expeditions were truly exciting and unique adventures as we explored this rarely visited, forbidding and uninhabited atoll where marine life is abundant and surprising. Our quest: to unlock the mysteries of shark migration routes between the islands of the Eastern Tropical Pacific Islands and raise awareness on the need to protect Clipperton’s unique ecosystem.
"At Oris we make time tochange things for the better"
The Big Migrations Expeditions
Our expeditions to Clipperton were both conducted under special permit delivered by French authorities. Expedition leaders Michel Labrecque and Julie Ouimet were granted, for both Big Migrations expeditions, the honor of carrying the Explorers Club Flag (flags #213 in 2016 and #93 in 2017).
The objectives of the expeditions were to document human impact and evolution of the ecosystem on such a remote island, document the presence of sharks and other large animals around the atoll and identify potential threats to better preserve this vital resource. The team tagged, using satellite and acoustic telemetry, several species of sharks to decipher migratory patterns in the ETP and prove connectivity with important shark sanctuaries.
On November 15, 2016, France confirmed the creation of an MPA, recognizing the need to protect this remote atoll. Our hope is that providing scientific evidence of the vital role that Clipperton plays in shark conservation, France will decide to not only enforce but also extend this new Marine Protected Area (MPA) in the Eastern Tropical Pacific. The ultimate ambition is the creation of an international corridor of protection with other countries such as Costa Rica, Columbia, Ecuador, Panama and Mexico and the listing of the area as a UNESCO World Heritage site.
Clipperton is an atoll that is choking in marine and plastic debris, a sad representation of our over consumption of resources. Beyond the visible debris, microplastics are forevermore part of Clipperton’s environment.
But all is not lost, Clipperton’s underwater realm is characterized by a high rate of endemism and its coral populations are healthy and resilient, further reason to protect this truly unique ecosystem!
Trailer - Clipperton 2017
Michel Labrecque and Julie Ouimet / N2Pix
Canadians Michel Labrecque and Julie Ouimet are co-owners of N2Pix. Julie and Michel decided to go off the beaten path in 2007, leaving the corporate world behind, choosing the ocean. They are the previous owners of a PADI 5-Star IDC. Their intense passion for scuba diving and the underwater world has led them to the four corners of the world and now into underwater photography and filmmaking. N2Pix specializes in underwater imagery and scuba travel and expeditions. Largely influenced by the need to protect the ocean, lately their work has focused on shark conservation. They have concentrated their efforts on building grass roots support for ocean related issues.
Published photojournalists, guest speakers at major dive conferences, short film producers as well as accomplished instructors and technical divers. Both are Fellows of the Explorers Club and Associate members of the Boston Sea Rovers, Stream2Sea Wavemakers, 22 Degrees Ambassadors. Michel is also a PADI Ambassador and a DAN Examiner.
The History of Clipperton
Over the course of the island’s modern history, four different nations; France, the United States, Britain, and Mexico have fought for ownership of Clipperton (Ile de la Passion). It was desirable both for its strategic position and for its surface layer of guano.
Its English name comes from John Clipperton, an English pirate and privateer who may have used it as a base for his raids.
In 1906 Mexico established a colony under the orders of Ramon Arnaud to reassert its claim of ownership.
By 1914 around 100 people, men, women and children, were living on the island but by 1917 all but one of the male inhabitants had died. Lighthouse keeper Victoriano Alvarez was the last man on the island, together with 15 women and children. Alvarez proclaimed himself "king" and began an orgy of rape and murder, before being killed by Tirza Rendon, one of his victims. Survivors were rescued by an American ship in July 1917.
In 1931, Clipperton was declared a French possession. There have been no permanent inhabitants on the island since 1945.
Since February 3, 2008, a special authorization is required to anchor in the 12-nautical-mile zone around the atoll.
On November 15, 2016 France confirmed the creation of a Marine Protected Area (MPA) around the atoll. Its size is equivalent to the territorial waters (12 nautical miles). The 12 nautical miles surrounding Clipperton Atoll are since, a no-take zone.