Cristina Mittermeier@cristinamittermeier

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

759 posts 543,511 followers 7,483 following

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

Jardines de la Reina

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

Jardines de la Reina

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

Jardines de la Reina

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 #aluciaproductions

Jardines de la Reina

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

Mekong River

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 |

Galicia, Spain

There are many theories around why whales smack the surface of the water with their powerful tail-fins. While Orcas are known to tail-slap, it’s not common for it to last very long. This humpback, however, in British Columbia’s Great Bear Rainforest, continued for over an hour. Is he communicating? Is it a feeding technique? Maybe he’s stretching …
Why whales do this remains one of the many, many mysteries of the sea that still remains and symbolizes how little we actually know about the oceans, even though they cover more than 70% of our planet.
#TurningTheTide with @sea_legacy | #humpbackwhales | #greatbearrainforest | #beautifulbc | #adventureworld | #beautifuldestinations

Great Bear Rainforest

As one of the most dangerous jobs in the world, it is surprising to know that many of the professional gooseneck barnacle harvesters in Galicia are women. Determined and very well organized, they have banded together to harvest one of the most sought-after delicacies in Spain’s culinary world. ⠀

The barnacles are scraped using hand tools as ocean waves crash all around. It's estimated that 67% of the global fishing workforce is made up of women and yet they remain in low-paying positions with little to no say in how the resource is managed. If we are going to make the world a better place, if we are going to change the narrative of our world's oceans from a negative one into a positive one, if we are going to ensure that coastal communities continue to get sustenance from the sea, we must empower those whose knowledge has developed over thousands of years. We must empower the women. ⠀

#TurningTheTide with @SeaLegacy | #galicia | #spain | #gooseneckbarnacles | #sustainablefisheries |

Galicia, Spain