Cristina Mittermeier

President, co-founder, and lead storyteller at SeaLegacy

"Any time you drop into the ocean, you open yourself to adventure, discovery and exploration. I love that."

When and why did you start diving?

I got my NAUI Open Water certification as part of my university degree in 1987. The course took one month to complete, and dive computers were not available for recreational diving, so we did all our diving with good old fashioned tables. As for the number of dives I've logged, I lost track a long time ago. Sometimes, I get to dive five or six times a day!

What is your spirit fish or mammal?

I love eagle rays because they are a work of art. They can be solitary but also come together in large groups to socialize. I love that a group of eagle rays is called "a fever".

Most memorable dive experience?

I have so many memorable dive experiences! One of the most memorable is a solo dive near the remote island of Wolf in The Galapagos. I accidentally got separated from my group early in the dive, and I decided to complete it alone. I saw a massive whale shark swim right above me, followed by a school of hammerhead sharks in the moody distance. It was not until the end of the dive that I realized the current was carrying me much faster than I wanted to go and that maybe I would come up too far for our dinghy to find me. Being surrounded by a group of curious silky sharks went from being fun to being a little too scary very quickly. I was glad to have both a whistle and an inflatable surface body to get our boat driver's attention. I could see him in the distance, just as the sun was setting, and I was relieved when he finally saw me.

How do you approach non-divers to get them excited about learning to dive?

People who have never dived before are usually hung up on the equipment's complexities and cost, and often, the biggest obstacle for people to overcome is fear. My approach is to make diving an invitation into adventure and a mysterious and extraordinary world. By shining a light on the beauty and helping people overcome their fear, I can open up the possibility of trying.

Dream dive: where and with who (alive or not)?

Always with Paul Nicklen, always in wild, remote places.

Favorite piece of Aqualung equipment?

I absolutely love my dive gloves. They are like a second skin, and I think they make me look cool!

Diving skill you are working to improve?

I just got certified as a rebreather diver. After thousands of dives on SCUBA, I feel like a brand new diver all over again.

What steps are you taking to improve the health of our oceans? Any advice for others who want to help?

I started a non-profit organization called SeaLegacy, and I have founded a storytelling platform to amplify and empower the conservation efforts of the entire ocean conservation community called Only One.

Any hidden talents?

I speak Portuguese fluently. I am a good cook. I can sleep anywhere.

Get inspired with Cristina: