“To roam the farthest corners of the Earth, where wild creatures live, is a privilege reserved for an adventurous handful.”

 – Cristina Mittermeier


Juliana (now 21), Michael (now 25) and John (now 31) in Yunnan, China. 2007.

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.

Adventurer of the Year 2018

“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 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 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

Press & Media Clippings

Recent articles and interviews with Cristina Mittermeier

World's Most Adventurous Women

World’s Most Advent...

The Men’s Journal by Jayme Moye & Mary Anne Potts Read
Putting A Human Face to Climate Change

Putting A Human Face to C...

Communication Arts
by Monica Kass Rogers


The Environment

The Environment

Playboy Magazine
by Cristina Mittermeier

The Big Meltdown

The Big Meltdown

National Geographic
by Craig Welch

True Calling Canada

True Calling Canada

Video Story


Creative Live Podcast

Creative Live Podcast

by Kenna Klosterman

Silvershotz, Australia

Silvershotz, Australia

Australia, Vol.12, Edition 5

The Conversation, on BBC

The Conversation, on BBC

with Cristina & Ami Vitale

TIME Top 10 Photos of 2017

TIME Top 10 Photos of 201...

Top 10 Photos of 2017

by Andrew Katz


18 Most Popular IG Images of 2017

18 Most Popular IG Images...

National Geopgraphic
by Daniel Stone


Views from the Water's Edge

Views from the Water̵...

The Argonaut
by Bliss Bowen


The Water's Edge

The Water’s Edge

The Atlantic


A Passion for Purpose

A Passion for Purpose

Outdoor Photographer
by William Sawalich


Trailblazers Show Girls the World of Science

Trailblazers Show Girls t...

Microsoft News
by Deborah Bach


Brazil's Threatened Tribe

Brazil’s Threatened...

McLean’s Magazine
by Meagan Campbell


Meet the Woman ...

Meet the Woman …

… who elevated conservation photography to a whole new level

Mother Nature Network
by Jaymi Heimbuch


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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Frequently asked questions and Cristina’s answers