Dr. Enric Sala is a marine ecologist who fell in love with the sea growing up on the Mediterranean coast of Spain. Witnessing the harm people do to the oceans led him to dedicate his career to understand and find ways to mitigate human impacts on marine life. After obtaining a Ph.D. in ecology from the University of Aix-Marseille, France, Sala moved to the United States for ten years, where he was a professor at Scripps Institution of Oceanography. In 2006, he moved back to Spain to hold the first position on marine conservation ecology at the Spanish National Council for Scientific Research (CSIC), and in 2008 he became a National Geographic fellow. Combining work at both institutions, Sala is actively engaged in research, exploration, communication, and application of scientific knowledge related to the conservation of marine ecosystems.
Sala's research aims to provide the essential amount of information needed for policy change. His research includes an important exploration component, searching for the last healthy marine ecosystems that can give us an understanding of the past and the present that can be used to inform the future. One of his present goals is to help protect the last pristine marine ecosystems worldwide. He spends a great deal of time diving in many locations, including the Caribbean, the Sea of Cortés, the Mediterranean, and remote Pacific islands. His scientific publications are widely recognized and used for real-world conservation efforts such as the creation of marine reserves. He is currently leading a global marine conservation initiative at the National Geographic Society in Washington, D.C.
Sala is a 2005 Aldo Leopold Leadership Fellow, a 2006 Pew Fellow in Marine Conservation, a 2007 National Geographic Emerging Explorer, and a 2008 Young Global Leader at the World Economic Forum in Davos. He also received the 2006 Prince of Asturias Award for Communication and Humanities with National Geographic. Sala’s experience and scientific expertise contributes to his service on scientific advisory boards of international environmental organizations