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Enric Sala Marine Ecologist

Photo: Sharks and coral
Sharks at a pristine reef at Millennium Atoll, southern Line Islands, Kiribati

Photograph by Enric Sala

Photo: Enric Sala
Photograph by JM Llenas

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.

Learn More About Enric:

National Geographic Explorer Profile

Gabon 2012 Expedition

World Ocean Day 2011 Essay

The Washington Post Profile

Photo: Crab

Listen to Radio Interview With Enric Sala

More from National Geographic Weekend

  • Photo: Turtle
    Pristine Seas Expeditions

    Pristine Seas is an exploration, research, and conservation project that aims to find, survey, and help protect the last healthy, undisturbed places in the ocean.

  • Image: Ted logo
    Enric Sala’s Ted Talk

    The impacts of humankind on marine ecosystems has been profound. Restoring more of our oceans to a healthy state promises to reap surprising ecological and economic benefits

  • Photo: Sharks
    Video: Journey to Shark Eden

    A team of scientists led by Dr. Enric Sala journeys to five remote islands in the Pacific to explore pristine coral reefs and the shark populations that inhabit them.

  • Picture of Enric Sala
    Video: The Importance of Pristine Coral Reefs

    National Geographic’s Ocean Now is a project to study the last healthy, undisturbed places in the ocean. Join Dr. Enric Sala and a team of scientists as they spend six weeks exploring the pristine waters of the southern Line Islands in the South Pacific.

  • Picture of Enric Sala diving with a turtle
    Video: BBC News: Underwater Indiana Jones

    In this brief video interview, Enric Sala relates the importance of protecting much more of the ocean.

  • Photo: Fishing boat
    NGM: Seafood Crisis (October 2010)

    Too many hooks in the water. That’s the problem with today’s fisheries. Working from small pole-and-line boats to giant industrial trawlers, fishermen remove more than 170 billion pounds of wildlife a year from the seas. A new study suggests that our current appetite could soon lead to a worldwide fisheries collapse.

  • Photo: Red snapper
    NGM: Kingman Reef (July 2008)

    A rare, pristine reef turns out to be a landscape of fear, where predatory fishes reign and their prey is in hiding.

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Sam Abell
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William Albert Allard
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Casey Anderson
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Peter Athans
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Robert Ballard
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Brady Barr
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Angela Fisher and Carol Beckwith
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Keith Bellows
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Melina Bellows
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Don Belt
   Former Chief Foreign Affairs Correspondent, National Geographic Photo of Don Belt
Lee Berger
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Joel K. Bourne Jr.
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Kobie Boykins
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John Bredar
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Kenny Broad
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Dan Buettner
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Andy B. Casagrande
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Barry Clifford
   Underwater Explorer Photo of Barry Clifford
Jodi Cobb
   Photographer Photo of Jodi Cobb
Michael Davie
   Filmmaker Photo of Michael Davie
Wade Davis
   Cultural Anthropologist, Author Photo of Wade Davis
Dennis Dimick
   Executive Editor, National Geographic Magazine Photo of Dennis Dimick
David Doubilet
   Underwater Photographer Photo of David Doubilet
Sylvia Earle
   Marine Biologist Photo of Sylvia Earle
Frans Lanting and Chris Eckstrom
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Andrew Evans
   Travel Journalist Photo of Andrew Evans
Michael Fay
   Conservationist, Biologist Photo of Michael Fay
Carol Beckwith and Angela Fisher
   Photographers, Writers Photo of Carol Beckwith and Angela Fisher
John Francis
   Planetwalker, Conservationist Photo of John Francis
Jerry Glover
   Agricultural Ecologist Photo of Jerry Glover
Annie Griffiths
   Photographer Photo of Annie Griffiths
Kevin Hand
   Planetary Scientist and Astrobiologist Photo of Kevin Hand
Zahi Hawass
   Archaeologist Photo of Zahi Hawass
Fred Hiebert
   Archaeologist Photo of Fred Hiebert
Peter Hillary
   Mountaineer, Author Photo of Peter Hillary
Nizar Ibrahim
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Donald Johanson
   Paleoanthropologist Photo of Donald Johanson
Beverly & Dereck Joubert
   Photographers, Filmmakers, Naturalists Photo of Beverly & Dereck Joubert
Karen Kasmauski
   Photographer Photo of Karen Kasmauski
Mattias Klum
   Photographer, Filmmaker, Conservationist Photo of Mattias Klum
Emory Kristof
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Tim Laman
   Field Biologist, Wildlife Photojournalist Photo of Tim Laman
Chris Eckstrom and Frans Lanting
   Photographers, Filmmakers, Writers Photo of Chris Eckstrom and Frans Lanting
Albert Yu-Min Lin
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Greg Marshall
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Boyd Matson
   Journalist, Adventurer Photo of Boyd Matson
Mireya Mayor
   Primatologist Photo of Mireya Mayor
Steve McCurry
   Photographer Photo of Steve McCurry
Kim McKay
   Environmentalist, Author Photo of Kim McKay
Mark Moffett
   Ecologist, Photographer Photo of Mark Moffett
Nalini Nadkarni
   Forest Ecologist Photo of Nalini Nadkarni
Cathy Newman
   National Geographic Senior Writer, Author Photo of Cathy Newman
Michael "Nick" Nichols
   Photographer, Conservationist Photo of Michael "Nick" Nichols
Paul Nicklen
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Børge Ousland
   Polar Explorer Photo of Børge Ousland
Bob Poole
   National Geographic Cameraman Photo of Bob Poole
Victoria Pope
   Deputy Editor, National Geographic Magazine Photo of Victoria Pope
Chad Pregracke
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Reza
   Photojournalist and Humanitarian Photo of  Reza
Jim Richardson
   Photographer Photo of Jim Richardson
Enric Sala
   Marine Ecologist Photo of Enric Sala
Joel Sartore
   Photographer, National Geographic Fellow Photo of Joel Sartore
Barton Seaver
   Chef, Conservationist Photo of Barton Seaver
Paul Sereno
   Paleontologist Photo of Paul Sereno
Brian Skerry
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Bryan Smith
   Adventure Filmmaker Photo of Bryan Smith
Will Steger
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Maria Stenzel
   Photographer Photo of Maria Stenzel
Ed Viesturs
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Spencer Wells
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Rory Wilson
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