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A fish in the shape of a human being
Interview with Manu San Félix

(By Pablo Burgués)

 

Hey, Felix, first thing I wanted to ask you is: How does a northern "chicarrón" like you end up in Formentera?? I was born in Madrid but grew up in Lekeitio. Since I was a child my obsession was to jump into the water with my diving glasses. At first with a harpoon that I later changed for a camera. After finishing my biology degree, my friend and thesis director was decisive for me to move to Formentera to pursue my three passions: biology, diving and underwater image.

And how does a Madrilenian from Lekeitio who lives in Formentera end up working for National Geografic?? In Formentera I found my particular paradise. Spending my days in the water doing what I liked while forming a family. I worked very hard and the results came. I won the Wildlife Photographer of the Year and the following year the World Underwater Festival. That put me on the international underwater picture scene and Enric Sal from National Geographic called me to work on his team. And there I am since 2009 having done 35 expeditions for them.

To tell you the truth I have no idea what an oceanographer does... Can you explain to me what your job is? My personal goal is to be able to do my bit to help protect the seas and oceans. And my tools are biology, underwater imaging and communication.? In my daily life I alternate between diving and working at the computer. I write conservation projects, edit video, write articles, etc. I don't know what boredom is and my days fly by.

What is Pristine Seas and how does it work? It is a project founded by Enric Sala with the aim of exploring the most remote places in the ocean to safeguard them. Today it is the National Geographic reference project because of its enormous success in terms of protection. Approximately 70% of the ocean on the planet is protected thanks to Pristine Seas. For this reason, we are carrying out expeditions to these places with the aim of creating a large marine reserve using science, image and National Geographic's ability to speak out to inspire the appropriate government to protect and safeguard that place.

is the planet and more specifically the oceans as fucked up as they say? There is no doubt that the world's oceans are in a more than worrying situation. According to the United Nations, 90% of the planet's fish stocks are depleted, over-exploited or fully exploited. We have killed 90% of the planet's large fish, mostly sharks that we catch 100 million each year.

In your interviews youalways try to avoid scaremongering. What do you think of Greta Thunberg's character? Do you think her model of activism is effective? I think it's very good for young people to express their concern about their future. I don't follow Greta Thunberg in detail but I know that a lot of people follow her and a lot of people criticize her. I think that often our society is distracted and instead of listening to the message it looks at the messenger and attacks him. Climate change is a very serious issue and we must be united.

We know that smoking kills us and yet we continue to do so... Can a species that is not capable of taking care of itself save the planet?? That's a very good thought. Maybe we're not as intelligent as we think. We knew the risk of a pandemic and did nothing, having already suffered warnings with previous pandemics (HIV, SARS, MERS).?We saw what was happening in China and Italy and we did nothing.?We know that a disaster is coming with global warming and we are not reacting. We don't react until we see the the handwriting on the wall and that is very dangerous.

They tell us to recycle, not to use single-use plastics, to fly less by plane... Shouldn't governments be the ones to legislate and take action to address environmental problems??Of course governments have to legislate but at the same time companies and citizens have to be responsible. We have as citizens the ability to penalize companies that are abusing plastics. And companies have the capacity to do things right and educate citizens

Can the Balearic Islands continue to live off tourism without destroying the environment??Absolutely. Tourism is the economy of the Balearic Islands and therefore it must be maintained, but with limits set and managed correctly. If we don't, people will stop coming. Tourists come here for the natural beauty, they do not come here for us.

Imagine being given one of those huge billboards at the exit of the airport. What would you put on it?? "While you're here, take care of your surroundings because you'll want to come back. Thank you". Illustrated with spectacular images of the beauty and natural wealth of the islands.

Finally, which character from the Ibiza universe would you like me to interview next time?? Ricardo Urgell, I'm a fan of his. He has been here for many years and has seen the enormous change and has a special sensitivity towards the sea and nature. He loves these islands.

 

If you liked this post don't hesitate to share it, it's free and you'll make me tremendously happy ;) 

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