Photographer Cristina Mittermeier’s social media posts have insightful captions that reveal her deep commitment to ocean ecology issues. Telling stories that inspire, engage and ultimately motivate action, she wants to show what’s beautiful and special but also what may be in dire peril. Perhaps most significantly, she wants to show her audience an opportunity to act positively and to possibly attain a solution, using her photography to shine a light and make a difference.
Underwater photographers usually evolve a specialty, but the first fork in their road typically involves defining an interest in either photographing natural history — marine life in particular — or concentrating on editorial and commercial work that inevitably involves photographing people underwater. Photos of charismatic marine life help tell the story of a dive destination or might be used for photo décor or stock photography. Compositions that illustrate people interacting with marine life bridge both disciplines and combine each approach’s rewards and challenges.
The U.S. currently has 14 national marine sanctuaries and two marine national monuments, and each has its own unique story. In preserving these irreplaceable resources, the sanctuaries protect who we are at our base — our soul as a nation. They reaffirm us and connect us to our incredible heritage. Sanctuary protections also have a ripple effect on ocean conservation. America’s marine sanctuaries can serve as sentinels for the wider seas, showcasing how we can move toward protecting enough habitat to ensure the ocean’s future and our own.
La Paz, on Mexico’s Baja California Peninsula, has always been connected to the sea, from its indigenous pre-Columbian people and a history of sea explorers, pearl divers and fishers to a modern destination attracting ocean-inspired tourists to interact with the abundant marine treasures of this region. The sweeping views of the ocean, the cry of seabirds and the plentiful masts and rigging of sailboats in the harbor all chorus the same message: If you seek adventure on and in the water, you have arrived.
With the COVID-19 pandemic curbing international travel, divers can still choose to dive locally. Andy and Allison Sallmon take us along on their road trip to Central California dive sites, where we can discover macro subjects in Morro Bay and bountiful marine life at the well-protected sites at Carmel and Monterey Bay. From a variety of nudibranchs and anemones to giant kelp, playful California sea lions and topside whale-watching tours to excite even the most skeptical divers, Central California offers many opportunities to discover plentiful treasures.
In the six years Neha Mani has been diving, she has seen a notable difference in coral reef vitality as a result of climate change. Coral skeletons on the powdery sand of the seafloor haunt the living coral with their cautionary tale. Numerous factors contribute to coral bleaching, but we know it is an extension of our changing climate. The steps we take to protect the reefs have broader benefits beyond just the coral. Through our conscious efforts to protect our oceans, we can hopefully pave a path to environmental recovery.