Enric Sala is a former university professor who saw himself writing the obituary of ocean life, and quit academia to become a full-time conservationist as a National Geographic Explorer in Residence.
He founded and leads National Geographic Pristine Seas, a project that combines exploration, research, public policy and media to inspire the creation of marine protected areas. The project aims to protect at least 30% of the ocean by 2030 for the benefit of nature and humanity.
Spending weeks at sea, diving thousands of hours, and seeking out some of the least explored and understood places in the ocean, Sala and a team of determined scientists and filmmakers work to inspire the creation of protected areas where marine life can thrive — while ensuring effective management for years to come.
To date, Pristine Seas has helped to create 23 of the largest marine reserves on the planet, covering an area of over 6 million square kilometers, an area twice the size of India.
In June 2021, Sala was awarded the National Geographic Society's Hubbard Medal for his commitment and dedication to protect critical areas of the ocean.