“With six documentary films and counting, chronicling his essential work, Dr. Enric Sala is not only a true inspiration,” said Debbie Levin, President, Environmental Media Association, “he is educating and motivating us all on the intricacies of marine wildlife.”
To anyone who has interacted with National Geographic over the past 10 years, Enric’s name and his mission are likely to be familiar. As leader of the National Geographic Pristine Seas project, Enric has taken teams of scientists and filmmakers to the some of the most remote and untouched islands and coastlines on Earth, all in the name of gathering scientific data and creating memorable films of the experience. The data and images are then powerful tools for the people of those regions to protect their marine environments.
This two-pronged approach to conservation is what is being celebrated by the Environmental Media Association this weekend as Enric and the whole Pristine Seas Project receive the inaugural EMA Board of Directors Heroes Award.
The EMA was established in 1989 by entertainment industry veterans including Norman Lear, producer of 70s sitcoms including All in the Family, and The Jeffersons. Inspired by success stories where TV episodes with message-related plot elements had encouraged increased application for library cards and familiarity with the concept of having a designated driver, Lear, his wife, Lyn, and Cindy and Alan Horn teamed up to encourage and celebrate the ways entertainment can “promote sustainable lifestyles” and “inspire consumers to take action” for the benefit of the environment.
Since the founding of the Pristine Seas project, Enric and team have undertaken 10 expeditions, working with many other groups and individuals, and helped to inspire the creation or expansion of several large no-take Marine Protected Areas around the world. At the Clinton Global Initiative forum in September 2014, the project’s expansion was first announced to the public. Over the next five years, the Pristine Seas team hopes to help designate 20 more such areas, totaling 770,000 square miles of protected ocean.
Hundreds more photos of pristine undersea worlds will come out of these future expeditions, along with hours of fully produced films in the National Geographic tradition. Behind the video cameras, team members such as Neil Gelinas, Manu San Felix, Scott Ressler, and Alan Turchik, are working with Enric Sala and the other scientists, filming the action and helping to bring the sea’s dark corners and dire need to the light of day for viewers around the world.