Cristina Mittermeier

Photographer / Speaker / Mexican / Contributor to National Geographic / Co-founder of @sea_legacy / SonyArtisan / NatGeoCreative / Founder of iLCP

779 posts 582,046 followers 7,321 following

In the winter, the dark waters of the BC coast, become cold and clear. What not so long ago were waters rich in plankton, now become crystalline and frigid. Not far from where I live, a lone Lion’s Mane Jellyfish floats towards the surface, carried by the strong currents and tides of the Salish Sea.
#TurningtheTide with @Sea_Legacy and @PaulNicklen
#turningthetide with @sea_legacy and @paulnicklen #nature #thankful #grateful


Every once in a while, a voice emerges from the masses that is strong enough to stop me in my tracks. @takaiya_blaney, a singer, songwriter, drummer and speaker for her people, from the Tla’amin First Nation of British Columbia, is one of those voices. Spending a day with her, on the edge of the Salish Sea, only reinforced what I already felt; that Ta'Kaiya has an opportunity to make positive change not only for indigenous people but for the environment and the empowerment of women and girls. Tomorrow, I will see Ta'Kaiya at the United Nations for the opening of an exhibit with Disney’s #dreambigprincess campaign. This image and others will be exhibited, symbolizing the possibility to make dreams of creating a better world come true.
#turningthetide with @sea_legacy #reconciliationcanada #girlup #girlpower #indigenouspeoplesday @unfoundation @girlupcampaign #getfishfarmsout


This image of young @Takaiya_Blaney, a singer, song-writer, drummer, and speaker for her people, the Tla’amin First Nation of British Columbia, encapsulates my three greatest passions: the natural world, indigenous rights and empowerment of women. As I head to the United Nations for the opening of an exhibit with Disney’s #dreambigprincess campaign, where images that Takaiya and I worked on to show the inexorable relationship that coastal First Nations have with the sea, will be exhibited, I know that our voices represent the desires and dreams of the many Nations fighting for respect and recognition of their indigenous right in Canada and around the world.
#turningthetide with @sea_legacy. #getfishfarmsout #reconciliationcanada #girlup #girlpower #indigenouspeoplesday #indigenousrightsnow



A few days ago I photographed @MolinaDawson, a young Musgamagw Dzawada’enuxw warrior, who has been occupying the open-net Atlantic salmon farms placed in her people’s territory without their consent. As she enjoyed a couple of hours off the metal floating structures of the farm, where she has been camping for 74 days, and spent an afternoon with me on a nearby island, we talked about her hopes and concerns. I asked her to wear her regalia and we headed to an ancestral fishing camp, where generations of people before her, have collected clams, fished and lived in nature for thousands of years. Today, Molina is in court, facing a judge in Vancouver for “trespassing” on her own territory. Something is very wrong with a country that continues to victimize its First Peoples by imposing on them unwanted industries that destroy their way of life. Most residents of BC agree that these toxic farms need to be taken out of the water. Join your voice by clicking the link on my bio.

#TurningtheTide with @Sea_legacy and @Tlalitas_08. Learn more at @CleansingourWaters #GetFishFarmsOut #FishFarmsoutNow #IsthisyourSushi? #uncededTerritory #ReconciliationCanada


Young warrior @tlalitlas_08 (Karissa Glendale), dressed in regalia gifted to her, generation by generation, from her great grand father, stands on the edge of the forest on the very same spot where her ancesters, the #Namgis people, built seasonal fishing camps. Surely they too looked out to the ocean, awaiting for the salmon to return. For 13,000 years the coastal First Nations of British Columbia have set their cultural clocks to the rhythm of the nature and they have maintained a harmonious relationship with the resources that support them. Over the past 75 days, Karissa and a handful of other women from nearby First Nations communities, have been occupying Atlantic salmon open net fish farms to protest an industry that is fast destroying their way of life. Atlantic salmon is not just bad for First Nations; it is killing the wild salmon on which hundreds of species, including bears and orcas survive. It is also a dangerous food, loaded with toxins and pathogens that none of us should ever eat. You can help put this industry on notice by going to the link on my bio. #TurningtheTide with @Sea_legacy. With @PaulNicklen and @tlalitlas_08

#getfishfarmsout #respectnature #indigenouspride #humanrights #ReconciliationCanada


This is what farmed Atlantic salmon can look like: Deformed, covered in parasites (like the ones on this fish’s head), and skin lesions. The fish carry a much more dangerous pathogen, the Piscine reovirus. This very contagious virus is infecting migrating wild salmon, attacking the fish’s heart and making it impossible for wild salmon to complete the epic journey they must make upstream to their spawning grounds. Atlantic farmed salmon will be the end of wild Pacific salmon — unless we get these farms out of the water. Go to the link on my bio to join the campaign to get the BC government to act or visit Photo by Jane and John Doe.
#turningthetide with @sea_legacy. With @paulnicklen @molinadawson @cleansingourwaters #getfishfarmsout #fish #indigenousrights #reconciliationcanada



Many of us believe that climate change doesn’t, and won’t affect us; that there is no impact on our daily lives. For the indigenous Inuit people of Greenland, whose survival is directly connected to traditional ways of life, the negative impacts of global warming are already here. A reduced and thinning, and therefore more unstable “highway of ice” on which they travel to hunt is already a real danger. The rest of the world is experiencing extreme weather conditions from heatwaves, hurricanes, floods, and fires. International climate leaders are gathering this week in Bonn, Germany, at the 23rd Annual Conference of the Parties under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change with a mandate to halt global warming. Join me and @UNFoundation in the global call to fill Instagram feeds with powerful climate messages. Show the world how you see climate change using #EyeOnClimate.⠀ ⠀ ⠀
#TurningtheTide, with @Sea_Legacy | #WeAreAllIn | #ClimateChangeisReal | @Climasphere | #COP23 | #environment | #bonn | #UNFCCC


The ocean and its creatures are so full of mystery! I was surprised when I came upon this pair during a recent dive. As I watched the stingray feed on the sandy bottom, the little fish followed its every move. First I thought the fish was harassing the stingray or trying to feed from its scraps. Then I realized that a complex relationship was taking place. The stingray can only see what’s in its frontal peripheral vision. The little fish alerts it when a danger is approaching from behind by swimming towards its front, where it can see it. In return, the scraps of food that the stingray scrapes from the bottom are a great snack for the little fish.

#TurningtheTide with @Sea_Legacy and @AluciaProductions. With @PaulNicklen, @SamKretch and @IanKellet_story

#underwater #photography #beauty #wildlife #love #harmony


This is fire coral, aptly named for the burns it can inflict on skin if you touch it. As “malevolent” as it sounds, I also think it is beautiful, especially as it reflects itself on the underside of the surface in the shallow waters of the Garden of the Queens.

#turningthetide with @sea_legacy. With @andy_mann, @samkretch,@mdalio and @iankellett_story
#aluciaproductions #beauty #ocean #carbonsink #underwater



I so enjoyed swimming over vast expanses of healthy sea grass beds in the Gardens of the Queen. Sea grass beds are not only beautiful, they are so important as carbon sinks, nurseries and food for all sorts of wildlife.
#turningthetide with @sea_legacy. With @andy_mann, @samkretch,@mdalio and @iankellett_story
#aluciaproductions #beauty #ocean #carbonsink #underwater


“Without sea ice, without our sled dogs, without polar bears, seals, walrus, and whales, our traditions and customs will cease to be.” This is what Naimanngitsoq Kristiansen, one of the last ice hunters of the North, told me while we traveled on the sea ice in northern Greenland. While most of us feel removed and unaffected by the impact of climate change, for indigenous communities whose lifestyles are still directly connected to their natural surroundings, climate change is here - but the rest of the world is starting to feel it too. Changes in weather patterns, devastating hurricanes, floods and a refugee crisis can all be traced back to climate change. It’s here. It’s real and as a global community, we are starting to see the type of action and innovation that is needed to reverse a frightening trend.
I feel a complete and total responsibility to do everything I can, and live in such a way that my actions and my lifestyle do not cause others to suffer a lesser fate than mine. #doyourpart by making smarter everyday choices. Avoid plastics, choose certified fish, don’t litter on beaches and most importantly, tell others to follow suit! Please take a look at @aninconvenienttruth and check out @zarialynn, @mattiasklumofficial to see what others are doing.
@SeaLegacy | #TurningTheTide | #ocean | #protect | #BeInconvenient | #ClimateChangeisReal | @natgeopristineseas


I vaguely heard cameraman @Andy_Mann slip into the water behind me to film me as several Silky sharks emerged from the darkening waters and started circling around us. As the sun set on the horizon, the inky darkness clung to everything, making it harder to see underwater. The sharks were not interested in us as food, but they were undeniably curious. Over time, they have learned to associate small boats with fish scraps, as fishermen often toss the remains of their catch in the water. Around and around they went, sometimes bumping into us but never with any aggression. I can say that for both Andy and I, this was a life-changing experience and a highlight from our recent expedition to the majestic Gardens of the Queen.

Video by @andy_mann. #TurningTheTide, with @sea_legacy and @paulnicklen | @aluciaproductions | @samkretch | @Mdalio | #gardensofthequeen | #Cuba | #JardinesdelaReina | @iankellet_story | #savesharks | #TheOceanFoundation | #aluciaproductions | #daliooceansinitiative | #marineconservation #tiburon #tubarao



There is an underwater sea garden, almost forgotten by the world, where species that have disappeared almost everywhere else, like this Elk horn coral, can still be found just beneath the surface. The Gardens of the Queen, aptly named to honor Queen Isabel of Spain by Christopher Columbus when he first arrived to the New World, is one such place.
#TurningTheTide, with @paulnicklen and @andy_mann


Do you ever wonder what lies beneath the thin blue line that is the surface of the ocean? That membrane that separates what we see and what we know, from what we cannot see? With my photographs, I try to share the experience of peeking below the skin of the ocean to marvel at the wonders below, like these fan corals, just below the surface of the Gardens of the Queen reef, in Cuba.
To see more underwater images of this submerged garden.
#TurningtheTide with @PaulNicklen and @Andy_Mann. #oceanconservation #coral #reef #marineprotection #mpa #underwater #caribbean


Oftentimes, the images that speak to me as most beautiful and artistic are not always colorful and intimate. An image like this one of a Silky shark circling below me is more meditative and peaceful. For some, this might be boring or quiet, but the feeling of being one with nature is what for me, makes the work meaningful. I would love to know what you think?
#TurningTheTide, with @sea_legacy | #gardensofthequeen | #Cuba | #JardinesdelaReina | | #silkysharks | #marineconservation | #fineart



Think about the kinds of experiences that have changed your life. For some of us they are the rites of passage that come with being a human: giving birth, weddings, the departure of loved ones. For me, being in the water at sunset, surrounded by Silky sharks and not feeling an ounce of fear, has definitely redefined my relationship with the ocean and with myself. On this evening, when @Andy_Mann, @PaulNicklen, @MDalio and I jumped in the water to photograph these majestic animals, I felt the thrill of their presence and I felt alive, humbled and immensely happy to be a part of the vast oceanic community for a few precious minutes.

#TurningTheTide, with @sea_legacy and @iankellet_story | @aluciaproductions | @samkretch | #gardensofthequeen | #Cuba | #JardinesdelaReina | | #silkysharks | #TheOceanFoundation | #aluciaproductions | #daliooceansinitiative | #marineconservation


An underwater forest in the Gardens of the Queen. I have often marvelled at how so much of what exists above the thin blue line, the part we better understand, somehow seems mirrored below the surface. Here, a vibrant mangrove forest sits on a bed of seaweed that almost looks like moss. Anemones seem to bloom like flowers and the water’s surface parts into a cloudy sky.
#TurningTheTide, with @sea_legacy and @paulnicklen | @aluciaproductions | #gardensofthequeen | #Cuba | #JardinesdelaReina | #TheOceanFoundation | #marineconservation | #aluciaproductions | #daliooceansinitiative | #anemone | #mangrove


One of my favorite things about fish is their names. Often whimsical and never boring, they describe the endless colors, physical and behavioral attributes of fish. These two are a male and female of the “scrawled filefish”. Anyone want to guess how they got their name?
#turningthetide with @paulnicklen and @sea_legacy. On expedition with @aluciaproductions on the MV Alucia. | #marineconservation | @aluciaproductions | #daliooceansinitiative @samkretch @iankellett_story



Yellowtail snappers in the company of Caribbean reef sharks are a common sight in Gardens of the Queen, a marine conservation area in Cuba that gives us hope for the future of our world’s oceans. Along with @aluciaproductions, we share this hope through imagery and stories that "evoke understanding, passion and stewardship”. This area is a complex ecosystem where you can find untouched coral reefs, curious sharks and mighty crocodiles. Many people have asked if we get scared being in such close proximity to the sharks and crocs. We know that these animals have enough to eat. They are not struggling or fighting to survive. Their environment, and with it their food supply, is protected. This gives us the opportunity to share the beauty contained here with you as we learn more about conservation initiatives that work.
#TurningTheTide, with @sea_legacy and @paulnicklen | @aluciaproductions | #gardensofthequeen | #Cuba | #JardinesdelaReina | #TheOceanFoundation | #jardinesdelrey | #sharks | #TheOceanFoundation | #marineconservation | @aluciaproductions | #daliooceansinitiative


Like sparkling jewelry, the humble sardine is both beautiful and important. This small schooling fish is one that most people have only seen swimming in oil inside a can, but it is actually one of the most important parts of many marine ecosystems as so many animals feed on them. While in the Gardens of the Queen, we learned that sardines seek refuge inside the mangrove forests during the day, and then swim out to open sea in the evening to avoid some of the larger predators that come into the mangroves to feed. #TurningTheTide, with @sea_legacy and @paulnicklen | @andy_mann #gardensofthequeen | #Cuba | #coralreef | #JardinesdelaReina | #TheOceanFoundation | #aluciaproductions | #marineconservation | #daliooceansinitiative | @nauticamhousings


Spending time with fish is one of my favorite things to do while diving. In order not to scare them with my bubbles, I often hold my breath and try to approach them gently. These two hogfish were amused by my presence momentarily, only to then swim away.
#TurningTheTide, with @sea_legacy and @paulnicklen | @andy_mann #gardensofthequeen | #Cuba | #coralreef | #JardinesdelaReina | #TheOceanFoundation | #aluciaproductions | #marineconservation | #daliooceansinitiative


A red lipped blenny, almost out of a Dr Seuss book, feeling safe and perhaps curious in his brain coral home.
Scientists estimate that there are 10% more fish in this heavily protected area, 50 miles off the south coast of Cuba than in the waters surrounding it. These fish find shelter in the healthy coral reefs that have not bleached, like they have in so many other areas of the world.
The Gardens of the Queen, where the northern Caribbean Sea intersects with the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic Ocean, is testimony to how effective applied conservation, in which science, business, and government can collaborate for the benefit of the environment.
#TurningTheTide, with @sea_legacy and @paulnicklen | @andy_mann #gardensofthequeen | #Cuba | #coralreef | #JardinesdelaReina | #TheOceanFoundation | #aluciaproductions | #marineconservation | #daliooceansinitiative


In a world where sharks are demonized and misunderstood, here in the Gardens of the Queen, they are revered and an indication that 20+ years of applied marine conservation science has been successful. Studies have documented sharks traveling more than 5,500 miles from Cuba to as far north as New Jersey, and then back again. Scientific data like this was a catalyst for Cuba’s "National Plan of Action" with a purpose of conserving and sustaining vulnerable shark populations in 2015. This is a clear case for why environmental conservation efforts cannot be limited by borders, politics or ownership. *** #TurningTheTide, with @sea_legacy and @paulnicklen | #gardensofthequeen | #Cuba | #JardinesdelaReina | #TheOceanFoundation | #jardinesdelrey | #marineconservation | #sharks | #silkysharks | #daliooceansinitiative | #aluciaproductions


An American crocodile (Crocodylus acutus) peers above the thin blue line and we make eye contact through the lens of my camera. We can't help but wonder if writer, Ernest Hemmingway experienced something similar. It’s entirely possible. Unlike too many areas in the world, where you have to look through the history books to get a sense of what life was like only a few decades ago, in Cuba’s Gardens of the Queen, the environment hasn’t changed that much. It remains untouched by luxury hotels and manicured golf courses.
“Now is no time to think of what you do not have. Think of what you can do with that there is” - Ernest Hemingway, The Old Man and the Sea, written in Cuba, published in 1952.

#TurningTheTide, with @sea_legacy, @andy_mann and @paulnicklen | #gardensofthequeen | #Cuba | #JardinesdelaReina | #TheOceanFoundation | #jardinesdelrey | #crocodiles| #TheOceanFoundation | #marineconservation | #Hemmingway | #aluciaproductions | @cubamarine #daliooceansinitiative


The great thing about this girl is that I photographed her several times on different visits and as she grew older, I was able to meet her different pets. She loves animals. In a village like this, in Kayapo, a girl would not have a formal education because everything they need is what they learn from their mothers and their sisters. It a very matriarchal society in which women play many different roles. Being capable is not the same as being educated; capable is being able to survive and make the most of the place where you live. I was invited to walk through the forest with this girl, and others from the village, and guess who was the incapable one then? Who’s the one that would be left behind? | #internationaldayofthegirlchild | #girlsmatter | #empowergirls | #IDG | #enoughness


There are elements of one culture that are foreign to another, like how these Kayapo children in Brazil are taking their afternoon bath in the river. What is found in all cultures though is that the young will imitate what they see - perhaps that is at the core of culture, how it survives … or becomes extinct. The girl in this boat is role-playing, preparing for a time when she will be expected to fish and bring food back to her village. This girl, like all children, train for life by practicing what they see around them. It is this passing of values through action that instills in me a great sense of responsibility to be the change that I want to see in the world.

#TurningTheTide, #enoughness, #empoweringgirls, #internationaldayofthegirlchild, #girlup, #UnitedNations, #kayapo, #brazil, #idg


Coming into Belon’i Tsiribihina from Morondava in Madagascar, I was surprised to learn that the people who had moved into the area had flooded the land to grow rice. The ancient baobabs were drowning. The area has since been protected and the rice paddies have been replaced with a kind of lily and even though they have very little nutritional value, this girl was sent by her mother to collect some for dinner. She is smiling at me because I got in the water to chase her around with my camera – a total stranger intrigued by what is a daily chore for her. I don’t mind being a source of entertainment and amusement for her. There are no i-pads or many other consumer distractions here but there is Enoughness - a term I use to describe people, a culture, that despite appearing “poor” by our North American standards find happiness and contentment in having enough. I am inspired by those in this world who are fulfilled by culture, tradition, and connection rather than material things.

#TurningTheTide, #enoughness, #empoweringgirls, #internationaldayofthegirlchild, #girlup, #UnitedNations, #baobab, #Madagascar, #idg


Paddling into her future. She was barefoot, wearing only a dirty cloth as a skirt and yet that is not what I noticed first. I was struck by the ability of this girl to paddle herself, from house to house, along the Mekong Delta in Cambodia. She must have been only eight or nine years old. Can you imagine your own child, at that age, paddling unsupervised in a tipsy boat? These kids are like fish, born into floating villages and competent at a very early age.

#empoweringgirls | #enoughness | #cambodia | #turningthetide | #internationaldayofthegirlchild | #mekongdelta | #girlup | #idg


I found these lovely girls - from the Vezo tribe, a semi-nomadic coastal people - on a beach in Western Madagascar. They are capable and sassy, having fun with their daily chores. I was intrigued, such big responsibility for girls their age to bring home dinner for their family. They were working, yes, but also having fun with me and my camera as I chased them around the shallow waters. I don’t tell the people I photograph how to pose, or where to stand. I let them lead me into who they really are.

It was sad to know that their catches have been dwindling while at the same time, on the horizon behind them, I could see large industrial fishing boats scooping up the big fish.

Oct 11th is declared International Day of the Girl Child by the @unitednations. The UN says “The world’s 1.1 billion girls are a source of power, energy, and creativity – and the millions of girls in emergencies are no exception. This year’s International Day of the Girl marks the beginning of a year-long effort to spur global attention and action to the challenges and opportunities girls face before, during, and after crises.” I couldn’t agree more, and this planet is in crisis. If we are going to make positive change in the world, we must empower the entire population.
#TurningTheTide, with @sea_legacy | #internationaldayofthegirlchild | #girlsmatter | #dreambigprincess | #empowergirls | #IDG | #girlheros |#girlup | @girlupcampaign


My camera is my passport to the world and I know without a doubt, that if people build relationship with our natural environment, they will be motivated to care. Caring stems from emotional connection that in turn, will lead to a collective change towards sustainable ways of living. Every other breath we take, comes from the sea. Without healthy oceans, we cannot exist. Today, on this Canadian Thanksgiving, I am grateful for the air we breathe, the resiliency of our oceans and for unwavering hope.
@TurningTheTide, with @sea_legacy | #galicia | #waterfalls | #beautifuldestinations | #drone | #oceans | #travel | #exploretheworld | #spain |