Diving Pristine Seas with Enric Sala, Marine Ecologist

Diving Pristine Seas with Enric Sala, Marine Ecologist

One of National Geographic’s newest Explorers-in-Residence, Dr. Enric Sala developed a passion for the sea while growing up on the Mediterranean coast of Spain. Witnessing the adverse impacts that pollution, overfishing, climate change, and industrialization were having on marine ecosystems, he dedicated his career to finding ways to restore health and productivity to the ocean.

To help save the last pristine places in the ocean, Sala has mounted a series of National Geographic expeditions to some of the most remote, uninhabited and untouched sites on the planet. These include a magical place in the remote South Pacific, the Southern Line Islands. Beyond shipping lanes and fisheries and far from human civilization, Sala discovered there what a healthy reef looks like—with crystal clear water, abundant multi-colored corals, and an amazing abundance of top predators. Sala has led other expeditions to places such as Cocos Island, Costa Rica, and Sala y Gomez, Chile. He has shared the stories of these stunning places through National Geographic films and publications.

Using a combination of science and media, and partnering with local conservation organizations, Sala has succeeded in inspiring country leaders to protect some of these pristine places. Now, he is racing to help establish a series of marine protected areas around the world to save the remaining pristine places that are still unprotected.

A former professor at Scripps Institution of Oceanography and at Spain’s National Research Council, Sala is now leading the Pristine Seas project at National Geographic. He is also a 2005 Aldo Leopold Leadership Fellow, a 2006 Pew Fellow in Marine Conservation, a 2007 National Geographic Emerging Explorer, and a 2008 Young Global Leader at the World Economic Forum. In 2011 he was named a National Geographic Explorer-in-Residence.

Oct. 8 Ferguson Hall
  • Photos by Enric Sala

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Show Dates & Times

Tuesday at 7 p.m.
October 8, 2013

What to Expect

Dr. Enric Sala is a marine ecologist who fell in love with the sea while growing up on the Mediterranean coast of Spain. Witnessing the harm people do to the oceans led him to dedicate his career to understanding and finding ways to mitigate human impacts on marine life. After obtaining a Ph.D. in ecology from the University of Aix-Marseille, France, Sala moved to the United States for ten years, where he was a professor at Scripps Institution of Oceanography. In 2006, he returned to Spain to hold the first position on marine conservation ecology at the Spanish National Council for Scientific Research (CSIC). In 2008, he joined the National Geographic Society in Washington, D.C. as a fellow to lead their global marine conservation initiative. He has since been named a National Geographic Explorer-in Residence. Sala is actively engaged inresearch, exploration, communication, and application of scientific knowledge related to the conservation of marine ecosystems.

Sala's research aims to provide the essential amount of information needed for policy change. His research includes an important exploration component; he searches for the last of the healthy marine ecosystems on Earth to give us a better understanding of both the past and the present and to inform us on the future. One of his current goals is to help protect the last pristine marine ecosystems worldwide. He spends a great deal of time diving around the world assessing underwater ecosystems, including the Caribbean, the Sea of Cortés, the Mediterranean, and remote Pacific islands. His scientific publications are widely recognized and used for real-world conservation efforts such as the creation of marine reserves.

Sala is a 2005 Aldo Leopold Leadership Fellow, a 2006 Pew Fellow in Marine Conservation, a 2007 National Geographic Emerging Explorer, and a 2008 Young Global Leader at the World Economic Forum in Davos. He also received the 2006 Prince of Asturias Award for Communication and Humanities with National Geographic. Sala’s experience and scientific expertise contributes to his service on scientific advisory boards of international environmental organizations.

About the Show

Marine ecologist Dr. Enric Sala, a National Geographic Explorer-in-Residence, left his academic career to take an active role in reversing the decline he witnessed in the oceans. Since 2005, Sala has fulfilled his passion to make a difference by leading National Geographic’s Pristine Seas expeditions. His mission: to find, survey, and protect the last healthy, undisturbed places in the ocean. His destination: underwater edens found outside the reach of shipping lanes, fisheries, and other human interference. Sala believes that when we understand how healthy marine ecosystems work, we can help damaged ecosystems recover.

To highlight — and save — some of our planet’s most remarkable underwater worlds, he and his team have conducted scientific expeditions to the Cocos Islands off Costa Rica, the Salas y Gómez Islands near Easter Island, and the central Pacific’s Line Islands. Most recently, he visited the Pitcairn Archipelago, legendary home of the HMS Bounty mutineers. Making 450 dives, Sala’s team discovered a paradise below the waves, where 90 percent of the sea bottom is covered with healthy coral. Join Sala as he recounts his adventures as a global marine conservationist. Enjoy a stunning visual
kaleidoscope of dazzlingly colored fish and lightning-quick reef sharks. Hear the stories behind his successful efforts to restore the oceans to health and beauty.

Education

Defining Moment — He had an office on the beautiful California coastline, and a promising academic career ahead of him —but he wasn’t satisfied. Would he spend his life simply documenting the decline of the oceans he loved? Bored, he opened the new issue of National Geographic that had just arrived. He found himself looking at a dramatic photo of a wiry man stripped to the waist and leading a group of porters through an African swamp, a look of crazed determination in his eyes. "That,” thought Enric Sala, “is what I want to do."