The superrich have long been known — accurately or not — for their competitiveness.

Take Ernesto Bertarelli and Larry Ellison. The Swiss biotech billionaire and the American software billionaire — both sailors — fought bitterly in court over the America’s Cup yacht race. But luckily, some of the world’s “one percent” are also engaged in a far worthier competition — protecting the planet’s seas and islands.

Bertarelli appears to have the early lead, having helped create two marine reserves. Chagos, in the Indian Ocean, is the biggest in the world; Turneffe Atoll in Belize, while smaller, may be more critical, given that 70 percent of the Caribbean’s reefs are threatened.

Not content to sit on the sidelines, British tycoon Richard Branson pledged ongoing support for the Caribbean Challenge Initiative, which aims to protect 20 percent of the Caribbean’s marine and coastal resources.

Then there’s Ted Waitt, the personal computing entrepreneur, who is helping to expand Cabrera National Park in Spain’s Balearic Islands — an important spawning ground for the bluefin tuna.

Competition can be a good thing. Let’s see more of it.

Costas Christ is an editor at large at National Geographic Traveler magazine. Follow his story on Twitter @CostasChrist.