Enric Sala

Marine Ecologist


Photo: Divers examining large coral

Photograph by Brian J. Skerry, National Geographic

Photo: Enric Sala

Photograph by Zafer Kizilkaya

Dr. Enric Sala is a National Geographic explorer-in-residence. He is dedicated to restoring the health and productivity of our planet's oceans, and his more than 120 scientific publications are widely recognized and used for real-world conservation efforts such as the creation of marine reserves. Sala is currently working to help protect the world's last pristine marine ecosystems and to develop new business models for marine conservation. He is the founder and leader of National Geographic’s Pristine Seas, a project that combines exploration, research, and media to inspire country leaders to protect the last wild places in the ocean. To date, Pristine Seas has helped create 12 marine reserves—including some of the largest on the planet—that protect more than 3 million square kilometers of ocean.

In 1996, Sala earned his Ph.D. in Ecology from the University of Aix-Marseille, France. Since then, he has received many awards and honors. He was named a 2008 Young Global Leader by the World Economic Forum, received a 2013 Research Award from the Spanish Geographical Society, and was granted a 2013 Lowell Thomas Award from the Explorers Club and a 2013 Hero Award from the Environmental Media Association. He is a fellow of the Royal Geographical Society, and his experience and scientific expertise contributes to his service on advisory boards of international organizations and governments.


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    Ban Spurs Dramatic Fish Recovery in Australia

    Australia's coral trout have thrived under a fishing ban on the Great Barrier Reef, showing that no-take reserves can spur dramatic comebacks in overfished ocean habitats, new research suggests. But the bold move to ban fishing to save fish would be hard to replicate along most other coasts, said the Australian study's lead author.

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    Largest Marine Reserve Declared; Home to Mariana Trench

    The home of a giant land crab, a sunken island ringed by pink-colored coral, and equatorial waters teeming with sharks and other predators have been designated national marine monuments by U.S. President George W. Bush in the largest marine conservation effort in history.

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    World's Largest Marine Sanctuary Proposed by U.S.

    A proposal by U.S. President George W. Bush could give national-monument status to some of the world's most remote and pristine Pacific islands and their waters, potentially transforming them into the largest protected marine reserve on the planet. But its success will hinge on whether the proposed ocean sanctuaries in the western and central Pacific are granted full-protection status, scientists warn.

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    Mexican Resorts Destroying Mangroves, Dooming Fisheries

    The loss of Mexico's coastal mangrove forests to development is threatening the country's multimillion-dollar fishing industry, according to a new study. Around Mexico's Gulf of California—between Baja California peninsula and the west coast of the mainland—mangroves are being destroyed to make way for high-end tourism resorts, marinas, and controversial industrial shrimp farms.

Inside National Geographic Magazine

  • Photo: Kingman reef underwater

    Video: Kingman Reef Sharks

    Marine ecologist Enric Sala and photographer Brian Skerry find sharks—lots of them—around a pristine reef.

  • Photo: Red snapper

    Northern Line Islands Blog Archive

    Join Dr. Enric Sala on his expedition to explore and document the uninhabited coral reef atolls of the northern Line Islands, one of the most remote places in the ocean.

In Their Words

No one organization alone is going to save the ocean.

—Enric Sala



  • Photo: Red snapper

    Southern Line Islands

    Dr. Enric Sala and a team of scientists explored the pristine waters of Kiribati's southern Line Islands, one of the last healthy, undisturbed places in the ocean.


Listen to Enric Sala

Hear various interviews with Sala on National Geographic Weekend.

  • 00:11:00 Enric Sala

    We last talked with National Geographic Fellow Enric Sala from the deck of a Chilean navy vessel as he prepared to go scuba diving off Salas y Gómez Island in the Pacific Ocean. Sala takes a break from diving to talk with Boyd about swimming with sharks and many other creatures in the newly created Salas y Gómez marine reserve.

  • Many people think of Africa as synonymous with vast savannas, deep jungles, and one famous snow capped peak. But few think of the long, unspoiled coastline that rings many of the continents countries. National Geographic Explorer in Residence Enric Sala is exploring one small section of coastline, twenty miles off the coast of Ghana. He tells Boyd that oil rigs are creating a synthetic reef, fostering life in an otherwise barren area.

  • 00:06;00 Enric Sala

    National Geographic Fellow Enric Sala is on an expedition to Salas y Gómez Island, a rocky speck of land in the middle of the Pacific Ocean located 200 miles east of Easter Island. Sala and a team of scientists are surveying the waters of a new marine park and studying what lies beneath these largely unexplored waters. Producer Benjamin Shaw caught up with Sala via satellite to chat about his explorations.

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