Pristine Seas

The Team

Picture of the Pristine Seas team underwater

Photograph by Enric Sala

Dr. Enric Sala, National Geographic Explorer-in-Residence

Enric Sala is the founder and leader of National Geographic’s Pristine Seas. His more than a hundred scientific publications, dozens of popular articles, and five documentary films are widely recognized and used for conservation efforts. A former professor of marine ecology at the prestigious Scripps Institution of Oceanography, Sala now combines exploration, research, economics, policy, and media to help protect the last wild places in the ocean. Sala is a 2005 Aldo Leopold Leadership Fellow, 2006 Pew Fellow in Marine Conservation, 2008 World Economic Forum Young Global Leader, 2013 Spanish Geographical Society Research Awardee, 2013 Explorers Club Lowell Thomas Award recipient, and fellow of the Royal Geographical Society. For more information, click here.

Paul Rose, Expedition Leader

A man at the front line of exploration and one of the world’s most experienced science divers and polar travelers, Paul Rose has been helping scientists unlock global mysteries in the most remote and challenging regions of the planet for the past 30 years. Rose is vice president of the Royal Geographical Society and expedition leader of National Geographic’s Pristine Seas. He is an active explorer, a television and radio broadcaster, a field science expert, and published author. He has been working in Antarctica and the Arctic every year since 1990. A popular and sought-after presenter, his television credits include the highly acclaimed BBC Oceans, Voyages of Discovery, Take One Museum, and Meltdown. He reports for BBC News and makes regular appearances on BBC Breakfast, current affairs programs, and Sky News.

Rose was the base commander of Rothera Research Station, Antarctica, for the British Antarctic Survey for ten years and was awarded HM the Queen's Polar Medal. For his work with NASA and the Mars lander project on Mount Erebus, Antarctica, he was awarded the U.S. Polar Medal.

Dr. J. Michael Fay, National Geographic Explorer-in-Residence

Mike Fay rose to the fore in exploration and conservation in 1997, when he walked 2,000 miles across an unexplored intact forest corridor in the East African country of Gabon. His documentation of trees, wildlife, and human impact led to the protection of an incredible 11,000 square miles of that country. This work inspired Enric Sala to lead comparable expeditions underwater for the protection of the sea.

Since then, Fay has participated in many Pristine Seas expeditions, exploring and documenting life and human impacts on the islands around which the other team members dive.

Having also performed the 2004 Megaflyover of Africa and the 2008 Redwood Transect, Fay has now returned to Gabon, where he is engaged in helping the government to stop illegal fishing and to establish the marine protected areas named as a result of the 2012 Pristine Seas expedition. This expedition explored Gabon’s coastal waters, doing for the ocean what was done for its forests 15 years earlier.

Manu San Félix, Underwater Videographer

Manu San Félix is a videographer, photographer, advanced diver, and marine biologist who has studied the Mediterranean monk seal and loggerhead turtles for many years. A diver since 1981, San Félix is now an instructor for all major diving techniques, including rebreather diving.

​San Félix currently serves as the d​irector of underwater photography/videography for Pristine Seas and has participated in 14 ocean expeditions with National Geographic since 2009. He has logged over 8,000 dives and holds many instructor specialties, including rebreather, nitrox, advanced nitrox, deep diver, emergency first response, and oxygen provider.

A professional photographer since 1988, San Félix has had his works published in National Geographic magazine, Mondo Sommerso, and Tauchen. He was awarded Wildlife Photographer of the Year (London, 2003) and won the Golden Diver at the 32nd World Underwater Picture Festival (Antibes, France, 2005).

David McAloney, Dive Safety Officer

Dave McAloney is a diving medical technician and dive safety officer. He is the operator of the Cowan hyperbaric chamber on board and responsible for all the diving gas systems for the expeditions. McAloney has worked with underwater systems for 23 years and is a certified manned sub pilot, ROV pilot, ROV systems offshore supervisor, yachtmaster, and electrical engineer. He was born in Australia, grew up diving and exploring the Great Barrier Reef, and currently lives in the United Kingdom.

Dr. Alan Friedlander, Chief Scientist

For more than 30 years Alan Friedlander has been examining population regulation in marine ecosystems with particular emphasis on responses to exploitation and marine protected area effectiveness, as well as traditional and contemporary fisheries management practices. Currently he is director of the Fisheries Ecology Research Lab at the University of Hawaii.

Friedlander has published more than a hundred scientific papers and has spent more than 8,000 hours underwater—from coral reefs to the Arctic and to depths of thousands of feet. As chief scientist for Pristine Seas, Friedlander's goal is to conduct research to help understand what the ocean was like before heavy human impacts, to understand what we have lost in other places because of human impacts, and most important, to set proper conservation and management goals for our oceans.

Kike Ballesteros, Marine Ecologist

Enrique ‘Kike’ Ballesteros is a field naturalist whose interests are focused in marine and freshwater ecosystems. Based at the Centre d’Estudis Avançats de Blanes, CSIC, Spain, he has primarily studied the Mediterranean region, although his passion for nature has enabled him to travel around the world. He specializes in seaweed and seagrass taxonomy and ecology, and has a deep understanding of marine invertebrates. His main subjects of research include habitat mapping and description, the effects of introduced species on the ecosystems, seaweed ecology, and the long-term monitoring of benthic communities. As a long-time colleague of Enric Sala, Kike has been engaged with Pristine Seas since its inception, and his main role on expeditions is to describe benthic assemblages.

Kike believes that observation is central to understanding nature, and he always prefers to go diving than to sit in front of a computer. However, he is also a prolific writer and has authored several books on marine algae, mushrooms (one of his hobbies), and the biology and ecology of marine Mediterranean ecosystems. His book “Marine wildlife of the Mediterranean” (2015) has been translated to five other languages (Spanish, French, Turkish, Dutch and Catalan). He has contributed to more than 300 research papers, books and book chapters.

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