Courtesy of Cristina Mittermeier

60 Seconds on Earth with Cristina Mittermeier

Conservation photographer and SeaLegacy cofounder Cristina Mittermeier sits down with us for our newest installment of 60 Seconds on Earth.

Mexican photographer Cristina Mittermeier helped pioneer the field of conservation photography. Alongside her husband Paul Nicklen, she’s cofounded the nonprofit organization SeaLegacy in an effort to protect our ocean through storytelling. Today, she continues to inspire and educate the world through her striking nature visuals.

 

In our latest edition of 60 Seconds on EarthAtmos asks Mittermeier a series of rapid-fire questions to help you get to know her a little better. From her home base on Vancouver Island in British Columbia, Mittermeier discusses her world travels, favorite ocean creatures, and offers advice to aspiring nature photographers.

 

The video includes only a few of the questions, but you can read the full interview below.

HANNAH ROSE MÉNDEZ

First off, how are you?

CRISTINA MITTERMEIER

I am doing great. I’m super excited. I’m about to go on a road trip.

HANNAH

And where are you at the moment?

CRISTINA

At the moment, I am in my beautiful home on the coast of British Columbia on Vancouver Island, Canada.

HANNAH

Do you have any nicknames?

CRISTINA

I have a couple of nicknames. The one that sticks the most is Mitty, which is short for Mittermeier.

HANNAH

And what can you tell us about SeaLegacy?

CRISTINA

It might be wrong for me to say, but I think SeaLegacy is the most amazing conservation organization on the planet. Our unique offering to the world is that we bring storytelling about the power of the ocean to be a solution to climate change. And through our platform, Only One,  we return the power to the people because that is more powerful than the people in power.

HANNAH

Love it. If you could be any sea creature, what would you be?

CRISTINA

If I could be any creature, I would be a jellyfish because they are incredibly adaptable. And when all other species, including humans, die on this planet, jellyfish will persevere.

HANNAH

Interesting. Deep open ocean or shallow reefs?

CRISTINA

I am fully a shallow reefs person because most of the life in the ocean is actually in the shallow waters in the coastal part of the massive ecosystem we call the ocean. It’s also the most beautiful.

HANNAH

Do you have any advice for people experiencing thalassophobia, which is a fear of the ocean?

CRISTINA

I do have some advice. You are not afraid of the ocean. What you’re afraid of is drowning or getting hurt. The ocean is our friend. The ocean is the biggest machine we have on this planet to decarbonize our atmosphere, so let’s fall in love with the ocean. It’s going to save us.

HANNAH

What’s one of the biggest misconceptions about sharks?

CRISTINA

Sharks get such a bad rep. There are lots of misconceptions, but the biggest one is that they are killing machines. They’re actually not. They have very little interest in humans, but humans have a lot of interest in sharks and we actually kill 70 million sharks a year. So let’s stop eating sharks.

 

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A post shared by SeaLegacy (@sealegacy)

HANNAH

One favorite memory while photographing wildlife?

CRISTINA

I have the most fun job in the world, and I have lots of great memories of photographing wildlife in the ocean. But, by far the best one, was photographing a baby sperm whale that decided that Paul Nicklen, my partner, and I were chewing toys. They are the largest carnivores on the planet—this one had no teeth, it was a baby, but it was still pretty big. Damn cute though.

HANNAH

That must have been wild. What’s the least favorite part about your job?

CRISTINA

The least favorite part about my job is that I am keenly aware of how close we are to climate catastrophe.

HANNAH

Where is home?

CRISTINA

Home is wherever my partner and my dogs are. Home is a place for sanctuary, for thinking, for resting, for recharging, for getting ready for battle again.

HANNAH

And what’s your preferred method of travel? Boat, plane, train?

CRISTINA

There is something really magical about traveling on a boat, and specifically on a catamaran, because it feels like you’re traveling on a magic carpet ride over the ocean.

HANNAH

Agreed. Who is your biggest inspiration?

CRISTINA

I’m inspired by a lot of people, but I draw huge inspiration from my partner, Paul Nicklen, and also from mentors like Dr. Sylvia Earl and Dr. Carlos Duarte. I am hugely inspired by people like Jane Goodall. The resilience of thinkers, like Dr. Thomas Lovejoy and Dr. Ian Wilson, who recently passed away. They taught us about the importance of all species on our planet.

HANNAH

How do you stay hopeful about the future?

CRISTINA

The reason I can stay hopeful is because there’s a massive number of people out there, hopefully including all of you, who actually care about what happens on this planet. And what we need to do is come together as a single voice, so that we can have the power that we need to change the status quo.

HANNAH

Are you an introvert or an extrovert?

CRISTINA

I am a very interesting mix of introvert and extrovert. I love my own company and I enjoy spending a lot of time by myself, but I also draw a lot of energy from crowds and from community, and friends and people who care about the same things that I do. So there you have it: intro extro.

HANNAH

Best place you’ve traveled to?

CRISTINA

I’ve been to 132 countries and I have to say that most of them are pretty amazing. The best place for me to travel to is home—beautiful Nanoose Bay, British Columbia.

“What we need to do is come together as a single voice, so that we can have the power that we need to change the status quo.”

CRISTINA MITTERMEIER

HANNAH

One book you think everyone should read?

CRISTINA

One book everyone should read is Drawdown by Paul Hawken and Untamed by Glennon Doyle. “How do we solve the climate crisis using natural solutions?” I’m also pretty much in love with a Song for the Blue Ocean by Dr. Carl Safina.

HANNAH

What’s your favorite Mexican dish?

CRISTINA

My favorite Mexican dish is anything that has a tortilla—so it could be a taco, it could be an enchilada, it could be a chilaquile, you name it.

HANNAH

And any non-work related hobbies you’re into right now?

CRISTINA

Oh my God, non-work related hobbies are amazing. If I had all the time in the world, I would love to paint and I would love to learn how to be a silversmith. I don’t have any time, so I dream about these hobbies.

HANNAH

Is there any saying or affirmation you live by?

CRISTINA

My new favorite affirmation is precisely that there’s a lot of power in the people—and there’s more power there than with the people in power. We better come together and speak loudly, hopefully, and inspiringly about the planet where we want to live.

HANNAH

Black and white or color photography?

CRISTINA

Both.

HANNAH

Any quick tips for aspiring nature photographers?

CRISTINA

Yeah, the most important tip I can give to any aspiring nature photographer is to be patient, mostly with yourself. It’s a very, very long journey, it’s very competitive and it’s very difficult. So, give yourself time, forgive yourself for the mistakes, and just know that the journey is going to be worthwhile.

HANNAH

And one key takeaway from this ocean month?

CRISTINA

The key takeaway from ocean month is that every month should be ocean month. The ocean is the largest and most defining ecosystem on our planet. It’s what you would see if you were going to go out to space—you would know that this is a blue planet because we are all ocean creatures.

HANNAH

And that’s 60 Seconds on Earth. Thank you for joining us.

CRISTINA

That was so fun. Thank you.

 

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A post shared by Cristina Mittermeier (@mitty)

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