Cristina Mittermeier is a contributing photographer, speaker, and explorer for National Geographic. She is the founder and President of SeaLegacy, a non profit organization working to protect the oceans.

Cristina on a fishing vessel off the Abrohlos Reef in Brazil, Photo: Paul Nicklen.

“To roam the farthest corners of the Earth, where wild creatures live, is a privilege reserved for an adventurous handful. But even though most of us may never feel the chill of Arctic air through the frozen flap of an icy tent, images can help us understand the urgency many photographers feel to protect wild places. My work is about building a greater awareness of the responsibility of what it means to be a human. It is about understanding that the history of every living thing that has ever existed on this planet also lives within us. It is about the ethical imperative—the urgent reminder that we are inextricably linked to all other species on this planet and that we have a duty to act as the keepers of our fellow life forms.”

 – Cristina Mittermeier
Cristina, diving under the big waves of Oahu. Photo by Paul Nicklen


Cristina Goettsch Mittermeier was born in Mexico City in 1966 and grew up in nearby Cuernavaca, in the sunny state of Morelos. She is a photographer and marine biologist who for the past 25 years has been working as a writer, conservationist and photographer. She graduated from the ITESM University in Mexico with a degree in Biochemical Engineering in Marine Sciences and later attended the Fine Art Photography program at the Corcoran College for the Arts in Washington, D.C.  In 2005 she founded the prestigious International League of Conservation Photographers (ILCP) to provide a platform for photographers working on environmental issues. In 2015 she co-founded Sea Legacy, a non profit dedicated to protecting the ocean, with her partner, Canadian photographer Paul Nicklen.

SeaLegacy is an organization dedicated to promoting the protection of the world’s oceans through storytelling. Cristina’s work has been published in hundreds of publications, including National Geographic Magazine, McLean’s and TIME.

In 2010 Mittermeier was awarded the Mission Award from the North American Nature Photography Association (NANPA) and the Smithsonian Conservation Photographer of the Year Award.  In 2016 she received the Imaging Award for Photographers who Give Back.  She is a member of the World Photographic Academy. Cristina is a Sony Artisan of Imagery, is recognized as one of the World’s top 40 Most Influential Outdoor Photographers by Outdoor Magazine and was named one of National Geographic’s 2018 Adventurers of the Year.

Cristina has three adult children, John, Michael and Juliana; all of whom are passionate about nature.

Juliana (now 21), Michael (now 25) and John (now 31) in Yunnan, China; 2007
Adventurer of the Year 2018

Press & Media Clippings

Recent articles and interviews with Cristina Mittermeier

Putting A Human Face to C...

by Monica Kass Rogers for Communication Arts Read Article

The Environment

by Cristina Mittermeier
for Playboy Magazine

Read Article

The Big Meltdown

National Geographic, by Craig Welch

Read More

True Calling

Video Story

View Here



A CreativeLive Podcast
by Kenna Klosterman

Listen Here

Amaze in ARD Germany

Titel, Thesen, Temperamente

Read More

Amaze in Silvershotz

Silvershotz, Australia, Vol.12, Edition 5

Read More

Meet the woman …

… who elevated conservation photography to a whole new level
by Jaymi Heimbuch

Read on MNN

Scientific Publications

“At the beginning of my career I was very focused on the science behind conservation efforts. Ideas like the Hotspots are interesting because they give us a blueprint for where to best invest limited resources to protect biodiversity.”

Conservation Biology, February 2009

Hanson TB, Brooks TM, Da Fonseca GA, Hoffmann M., Lamoreux JF, Machilis G., Cristina Mittermeier, Russel A. Mittermeier, Pilgrim JD.

Conservation efforts are only as sustainable as the social and political context within which they take place. The weakening or collapse of sociopolitical frameworks during wartime can lead to habitat destruction and the erosion of conservation policies, but in some cases, may also confer ecological benefits through altered settlement patterns and reduced resource exploitation. Over 90% of the major armed conflicts between 1950 and 2000 occurred within countries containing biodiversity hotspots, and more than 80% took place directly within hotspot areas. Less than one-third of the 34 recognized hotspots escaped significant conflict during this period, and most suffered repeated episodes of violence. This pattern was remarkably consistent over these 5 decades. Evidence from the war-torn Eastern Afromontane hotspot suggests that biodiversity conservation is improved when international nongovernmental organizations support local protected area staff and remain engaged throughout the conflict. With biodiversity hotspots concentrated in politically volatile regions, the conservation community must maintain continuous involvement during periods of war, and biodiversity conservation should be incorporated into military, reconstruction, and humanitarian programs in the world’s conflict zones.

Journal of Science, February 2002

Callum M. Roberts, Colin J Mcclean, John E. N. Vernon, Julie P. Hawkins, Gerald R. Allen, Don E. Mcallister, Cristina G. Mittermeier, Frederick W. Schueler, Mark Spalding, Fred Wells, Carly Vynne & Timothy B. Werner

Coral reefs are the most biologically diverse of shallow water marine ecosystemsbut are being degraded worldwide by human activities and climate warming. Analyses of the geographic ranges of 3235 species of reef fish, corals, snails, and lobsters revealed that between 7.2% and 53.6% of each taxon have highly restricted ranges, rendering them vulnerable to extinction. Restricted-range species are clustered into centers of endemism, like those described for terrestrial taxa. The 10 richest centers of endemism cover 15.8% of the world’s coral reefs (0.012% of the oceans) but include between 44.8 and 54.2% of the restricted-range species. Many occur in regions where reefs are being severely affected by people, potentially leading to numerous extinctions. Threatened centers of endemism are major biodiversity hotspots, and conservation efforts targeted toward them could help avert the loss of tropical reef biodiversity. read more

Nature; International weekly journal of Science, December 1999

Norman Myers, Russel A. Mittermeier, Cristina G. Mittermeier, Gustavo A.B. da Fonseca & Jennifer Kent.

Conservationists are far from able to assist all species under threat, if only for lack of funding. This places a premium on priorities: how can we support the most species at the least cost? One way is to identify ‘biodiversity hotspots’ where exceptional concentrations of endemic species are undergoing exceptional loss of habitat. As many as 44% of all species of vascular plants and 35% of all species in four vertebrate groups are confined to 25 hotspots comprising only 1.4% of the land surface of the Earth. This opens the way for a ‘silver bullet’ strategy on the part of conservation planners, focusing on these hotspots in proportion to their share of the world’s species at risk.


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