Manu San Félix, marine biologist and submarine photographer of National Geographic, captures the beauty of the Mediterranean seabeds in his photographs and raises his voice for the conservation of the posidonia – the underwater plants that purify the waters of the sea.

Interview with Manu San Félix

With the aim of protecting the Mediterranean Sea, this marine biologist and National Geographic explorer has been studying its threats below the surface for over thirty years. Raising awareness for marine world to Spain and all over the world, many of Manu San Félix creative works  have been notably awarded.

What is posidonia and what is its importance for Mediterranean marine life?

Posidonia is a superior plant with roots, stems and leafs with capacity to flower. It is very different from algae. It is a species that protects the coast from the waves and the erosion of the reefs that it generates from, growing up several meters above the bottom of the sea. It is also the habitat for dozens of marine organisms. Posidonia meadows generate huge amounts of oxygen that purify the water from viruses and bacteria and provide further oxygen to the atmosphere. In addition, they are a sink of CO2that sequester from the atmosphere, meaning that Posidonia is an invaluable ally in the fight against global warming.

What campaigns have the National Geographic run in relation to posidonia and what have been their implications?

Let’s say that for some time I have been trying to get NG to look at the posidonia and the Mediterranean. NG Spain has produced a documentary that I directed and presented and which premieres in the NG Channel on June 3rd. The title is ‘Save our Mediterranean’ and is dedicated to what we can do to recover the Mediterranean. In this production the posidonia has a special role to promote a campaign of value and advocate actions for its conservation. Its aim has been to promote the project of cartography of the prairies and the app ‘Posidonia MAPS’.

Which marine animals are most especially threatened in the Mediterranean and what can we do to help?

Unfortunately, many species are threatened. Some are on the verge of extinction, such as the Mediterranean monk seal or the nobel pen shells that in just two years have become ‘critically endangered’. Others are not at risk of extinction but are threatened and make up a long list, including red coral, sea horses, sea cicada, triton, sea turtles and posidonia. One of the main losses we have suffered is of fish big. Before at very little depth, huge groupers were captured and now these have disappeared. We have caught 99% of the sharks in the Mediterranean, which is a real problem.

What is your advice for those that visit the Mediterranean this summer? What should they be aware of in relation to the waters?

We must be aware and strive to alleviate the pressure on the environment. We can do that with responsible personal behavior – recycling our garbage, by not emptying the water from the bilges when we sail and by fishing responsibly. We should also minimise the use of plastic by avoiding buying plastic water bottles and not using straws. Fundamentally, we must fight to avoid using single-use plastics.

More information: nationalgeographic.es

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