Fresno Christian High School
73° Fresno, CA
The Student News Site of Fresno Christian High School

The Feather

  • Senior Portfolio Day - May 1
  • The Feather honored with Silver CSPA digital news Crown Award
  • Interested in joining our team - Interest Meeting 4/29 at lunch rm 602
  • FCHS Cheer Tryouts - April 18-20
  • Boys Volleyball Senior Night - 4/18
  • Download the new Feather app - search Student News Source in App store
The Student News Site of Fresno Christian High School

The Feather

The Student News Site of Fresno Christian High School

The Feather

Letter to the Editor
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Ocean conservationist Cristina Mittermeier pictures the future

Award-winning photographer raises awareness about conditions of sea life
Kori James
Cristina Mittermeier poses with students after interview. She hopes to inspire the next generation to consider conservation.

Cristina Mittermeier, hailed as the most influential conservation photographer and marine biologist, speaks at Saroyan Theater on Jan. 17 for San Joaquin Valley Town Hall to share about her work. Mitty, as she is known, graduated from the ITESM University in Mexico with a degree in Biochemical Engineering in Marine Sciences. Through her scientific work, she found that the message did not quite get enough attention, however people sure paid attention to an impactful image. This led her to Washington, D.C. to study fine art photography at Corcoran College for the Arts.

Mittermeier has taken photos all over the world, including Brazil, Madagascar, Kenya, southwestern Australia, Ethiopia, Mexico and Canada.  During her talk, Mittermeier showed pictures and told stories about her adventurous trips. She talked about the impact her images have had on climate change and conserving the oceans.

While they were in Canada on assignment to the Baffin Islands for National Geographic, Mittermeier and her team shot a video of a starving polar bear impacted by climate change. The bear was vulnerable, starving and out of its natural habitat. The crew felt powerless to help. The video filmed by Paul Nicklen and Mittermeier went viral with more 2.9 million views – exactly the purpose of filming it. Mittermeier describes the heart wrenching moment.

“We stood there crying, filming with tears rolling down our cheeks,” Mittermeier said. “After we wrapped, the team scattered to every place we could find food and tried our best to feed the starving bear even though we knew we were interfering.”

There are many times that photojournalist find themselves photographing subjects difficult to see, however, it’s that image or  video that can be most impactful and foster change.

Cristina Mittermeier is also the author and photographer of a book called A Maze, which includes her photos taken around the world. Selah Neal

Mittermeier learned this valuable lesson on her official first assignment with National Geographic, where she traveled to Brazil to capture indigenous tribes on the Amazon River. Her mission: tell the story of their connection and dependence on the river as construction of the third largest hydroelectric project in the world, Belo Monte Dam, was about to be constructed. This would choke out the Xingu River and cripple many civilizations whose very life depended on it.

While in Brazil, she faced her first ethical conflict that to this day she calls a failure.

She hoped to capture an important ritual amongst the village mothers – a baby’s first bath which culturally connects the child to the river. She didn’t have her camera when all of a sudden this event took place… she missed it. Naively, she assumed she could recreate the moment the next day.

To her surprise, the baby had died and was already buried by the time she attempted a re-shoot. Later that day the mother emerged bloody, weeping and carrying the body of her deceased infant which she had dug back up.  Camera in hand, frozen in shock, Mittermeier watched the grieving mom wail amongst the observing villagers. Pressing the shutter, capturing that impactful image was a paralyzing thought, therefore, it would never be seen. FAIL.

Inability to capture such a provocative image challenged her confidence as a photojournalist. When news broke that the dam was approved for construction she couldn’t help but wonder if those images could have made a difference.

“Would their fate have been different if I had dared to do my job and take those difficult photographs?” – Cristina Mittermeier from Amaze

From the Amazon forests to the depths of the ocean, Mittermeier expanded her passion and urgency to educate people through a combination or art, science and conservation with the launch of SeaLegacy in 2014. Co-founded with Nicklin, this non profit would continue to protect the ocean and spread awareness of biodiversity and the impact our oceans  have on humanity and climate.

Cristina Mittermeier speaks to students before she goes on stage at San Joaquin Valley Town Hall, Jan. 17. (Selah Neal)

While in Portugal searching for whales, she saw a bunch of sea turtles basking in the sun. One of the turtles had a tag, which showed how far the turtle swam and where it came from.

“The turtle had swam 4,000 miles to the north Atlantic coast of Portugal. This turtle one day will make a decision to make a U-turn” Mittermeier said. “And it will find its way following a path that only she sees in her head to the very same beach where she was born.”

Ocean animals are some of the most impressive creatures with so much unknown data about them yet to be explored.

Before Mittermeier went on stage, students from several different local schools had the opportunity to interview her. She specifically shared her concerns about two kinds of young people. Those who are engaged and want to help and those who are apathetic and just don’t care.

“You have to build yourself a well of positivity and optimism that’s your own, that nobody can take away,” Mittermeier said. “If your going to do this work, you have to have an imaginary superhero suit, and your going to wear it everyday as you infect others with your enthusiasm.”

One way students can help is opting out of using single-use receptacles like water bottles and picking up trash when you see it.

Living three hours away from the nearest coast, Fresno residents love to visit but many may be unaware of the dangers occurring underneath the surface.

Canva AI image generated infographic. (Selah Neal)

Did you know there are more than 500 dead zones in the ocean? This is due to the 33 billion pounds of plastic dumped in the sea each year. Only 9% of the plastic people use in the world gets recycled.

Jayson Morgan, ‘27, has only been to the ocean once and went to Santa Cruz beach, but he noticed a lot of trash.

“Considering I can’t do much about it considering my age and influence on the world. I would like to say it is one of my goals to fix that in the future or find a way to help with that,” Morgan said.

Plastics take 500-1,000 years to decompose and are predicted to outnumber fish in the ocean by the year 2050. Can you make a difference? There are many places to go and help, including Join a Cleanup, Heal the Bay and Beach Clean Up.

To read more from a past SJV Town Hall read James Webb Telescope furthers science exploration or Susan Lynch lectures at San Joaquin Valley Town Hall

For more from The Feather visit Track and Field treks through the rain or PROMO:Committee collects unique donations for spring auction and benefit.

Leave a Comment
About the Contributors
Erin Poudrier
Erin Poudrier, Journalist
Erin Poudrier is a freshman,  who is new to The Feather. Poudrier loves playing volleyball for Fresno Christian. She plays acoustic and electric guitar. You might find Erin in the kitchen crafting a layered cake. She hopes to learn how to write and post articles for The Feather.
Selah Neal
Selah Neal, Photojournalist
Selah Neal is a freshman, and this is her first year on The Feather. Neal is eager to develop skills in the art of photography that she can carry with her into the future. She enjoys snacking, kayaking, and horseback riding. Selah hopes to keep her straight-A’s this year and have a few adventures along the way.
Kori James
Kori James, Adviser

Adviser, educator, photographer and all around adventure lover, Kori James is always up to something.  Partnering with adviser Greg Stobbe in 2014, James helped to advance the award-winning online newspaper with a new design and digital media curriculum. James specializes in training up young professionals utilizing her experiences as a pro photographer. In her free time you can find her spending time with her family usually cooking up something amazing.

More to Discover
Donate to The Feather

Comments (0)

All The Feather Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *