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Cristina Mittermeier’s photography is inspiring environmental action

Thought Leader: Cristina Mittermeier
November 9, 2021
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Cristina Mittermeier is a marine biologist and pioneer in the field of conservation photography. She took this image of a stingray gliding across a carpet of seagrass on the edge of the mangrove forests of Bimini, The Bahamas. “Seagrass beds support a vibrant community of underwater creatures including sea turtles and many species of fish,” writes Mittermeier. “They serve as indicators of an ecosystem’s health as the grasses are sensitive to changes in the ocean.”

Cristina Mittermeier Worldwide Speakers Group

Mittermeier published this photo of an emaciated polar bear on a barren Arctic tundra, in 2017. “Millions of people saw this image and the resulting global dialogue provided unprecedented insight into the work still necessary to create a large enough movement to activate solutions,” she writes.

Cristina Mittermeier Worldwide Speakers Group

The economy of the island of Bora Bora, French Polynesia, is driven by tourism, writes Mittermeier. “Community-based ecotourism is one of the solutions to supporting biodiversity while helping to empower local communities to shape both the future of their home and our ocean,” she adds.

“In the quiet blue of the Azores, I watched a blue whale, one of the last remaining true titans of planet Earth and the largest animal in the world, flow to the surface and then dive again with a gentle lift of its tail,” writes Mittermeier. Blue whale numbers were decimated by the whaling industry, but public outcry helped stem the slaughter and the species is now recovering. “They are symbolic of both the power of nature and advocacy, reminding us all that our unified voices can make a difference,” she adds.

Mittermeier took this image in The Bahamas. “Hammerheads are extremely vulnerable to overfishing and often end up as by-catch victims in longlines, an unfortunate tragedy that we can change by working together, and educating ourselves,” she writes.

Another of Mittermeier’s photos from The Bahamas. “At a glance, mangroves don’t look like much — just a bunch of trees propped up on long stilts along the shores,” she writes. “But tucked away within their dense root systems is a secret world brimming with unimaginable forms of life.”

Titouan Bernicot, pictured, says he was “born on a pearl farm lost in the middle of the Pacific Ocean,” according to Mittermeier. Aged 16, he realized that the coral reefs in French Polynesia were dying and decided to do something to help. He founded Coral Gardeners, a nonprofit that educates the public about the importance of coral reefs.

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