National Geographic Explorer and photographer Octavio Aburto focuses his photographic outreach and scientific research on the conservation of marine habitats and commercially important species and their fisheries. He has been photographing marine ecosystems off the coastal waters of Mexico since 1994, and also works in Belize, Costa Rica, Ecuador, and the United States. Octavio earned a Ph.D. at the Center of Marine Biodiversity and Conservation at Scripps Institution of Oceanography (SIO), where he currently serves as an associate professor and research scientist. His images have been part of several conservation projects worldwide and have won international photography contests. Aburto is a National Geographic grantee and Kathryn Fuller Fellow, was awarded the Conservation of Nature prize by the Mexican Ministry of the Environment—CONANP—in 2014, and received a PEW Marine Fellowship in 2018. His projects have included a long-term reef monitoring program in the Gulf of California, a fish biomass study in Cabo Pulmo National Park on Mexico’s Baja peninsula, and a National Geographic-funded exploration of Mexico’s last untamed river and its influence for the sustainability of nearby wetlands. Additionally, in collaboration with National Geographic Pristine Seas in 2016 and 2017, Octavio played a large role in establishing Revillagigedo National Park, which now protects five percent of Mexican seas and became the largest marine reserve in North America. A member of the International League of Conservation Photographers, Aburto seeks to combine his professional photography, videography, and research to highlight the importance of communicating local science to decision-makers, donors, and the general public. His photograph from Cabo Pulmo entitled “David and Goliath,” which exemplified the importance of fish spawning aggregations, has received millions of hits online and is being used by government agencies and NGOs to promote ocean conservation.
Marine Biologist, Conservationist, Photographer