Changing Planet

Salas y Gómez Expedition: Enric Sala Answers Your Questions

Marine ecologist and National Geographic Fellow Enric Sala takes a break from diving around Salas y Gómez Island to answer your questions.
Are you guys taking necessary precautions so as not to affect the marine life in any way?
Yes absolutely. Our objective is to study the natural behavior of marine life, so we do all we can to not disturb them while we’re here and to leave the environment as we found it when we go.
Does it sadden you to be in search of something that should be everywhere?
Yes, but it makes me happy to know that there are still healthy places out here in the sea.
How many new underwater life forms have you found & photographed?
Over my career, I have seen many thousands of marine species. But I have been able to photograph only several hundred.
Do you plan on finding new breeds of aquatic life?
Every time we visit an isolated and relatively unexplored place, we hope and expect to find species that have not yet been described by science.
Once you find abundant life in a pristine environment, what next?
Maybe it’s not best to find them because humans will just destroy them. There are no truly remote places any more in the sea. Fishing fleets can and do reach every corner of the ocean. We therefore prefer to put these places on the radar, so that there’s global awareness and interest in preserving these last marine gems before they’re gone.
Are the cameras recording all the time or do they have they motion sensors?
We can only film for a few hours at a time with our handheld cameras, then we need to head back to the boat to recharge the batteries. The dropcams we brought can record up to about six hours with their lights on–and they’re usually set to record continuously while they’re on the bottom–but then we have to retrieve them and charge their batteries, too.
Can you try to describe what it feels like down there, especially when you get to have a really close look at the amazing world of the oceans?
It is a spiritual experience to descend into a world where you can fly and glide amid so much marine life. I urge you and everyone to learn to dive and come experience it for yourself. Dive safely, take the time to see what’s here, and the ocean won’t disappoint you.
Photograph by Ford Cochran
The science team will share frequent updates and media from the expedition, including photographs, videos and links to Google maps, here on the National Geographic News Watch blog. You can also follow the expedition on Google Earth by clicking on the blue ship icon located where the expedition begins near Easter Island, roughly 2,000 miles (3,300 km) northwest of Santiago, Chile. (Make sure the “Places” layer is turned on).
National Geographic and Oceana are members of Mission Blue
View all dispatches from the Salas y Gómez expedition here

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