Getting Hooked On Oceans with Cristina Mittermeier

Cristina Mittermeier


Continuing with our Sylvia Stories, we have Cristina Mittermeier. She is a woman who dips her toes in many waters as an award-winning photographer, a National Geographic adventurer, and co-founder of SeaLegacy.

Her iconic photographs capture our attention, but it is the stories behind her images that move audiences to action. Using her skills as a photographer, she inspires us to rethink our own narrative and the connection we have as humans to take care of Earth’s lifeblood -- our oceans.

Mittermeier was kind enough to share a small piece of her story with us in honor of our Off the Reef Fall Benefit keynote speaker, Dr. Sylvia Earle.

CGM-HEADSHOT-BOAT-2 - Cristina Mittermeier.jpg

IOFF: Tell us about yourself. What first interested you in the ocean?

Mittermeier: I grew up in the mountains of Central Mexico and spent my childhood reading pirate books. Those were my first call to adventure. I became a marine biologist to pursue that passion and pretty soon realized that our oceans have been in trouble for a long time. 

IOFF: How has Sylvia Earle’s voice and work inspired you?

Mittermeier: As a young marine biology student in Mexico I had no access to any inspiring female role models. I did have access to a small university library where I was able to read Exploring the Deep Frontier: The Adventures of Man in the Sea. I could almost hear Sylvia's voice narrating this book. That was the first time I knew other women were out there exploring the ocean.  

IOFF: What is an example of recent policy changes or conservation wins that are good for the ocean and planet? How can we catalyze more of those?

Mittermeier: Beyond working with governments to declare new MPAs [marine protected areas], we have a lot of work to do to reform existing practices. Public pressure to ban driftnets in California; public pressure to remove open-net salmon farms from BC coast, public pressure to ban oil drilling in Lofoten are all examples of how SeaLegacy is mobilizing audiences to change policy.

We look forward to sharing more Sylvia Stories leading up to the benefit. Make sure to follow us on social media and use the hashtag #SylviaStories to share your own story.

The Off the Reef Fall Benefit is hosted Saturday November 2nd in San Francisco, CA. All proceeds benefit the Student Education Program a free film program hosted in March for over 1,200 Bay Area middle and high school students. For more information and tickets to Off the Reef, visit our website here.