While many people are scared of sharks, some sharks are scared of bubbles. “Cocos Island is one of the sharkiest places on earth,” says marine ecologist and National Geographic Explorer-in-Residence Enric Sala. “There’s a seamount half a mile off the island. A hundred feet down we’d go to the edge and wait, and soon 200 hammerhead sharks would come over us. I have one picture I took where I counted 122 sharks just in one frame, but when we’d exhale they’d take off and go in all directions. They don’t like the bubble sounds.”
With more than 4,000 dives under his weight belt, the tall, slim and affable, 46-year-old scientist raised near Catalonia’s Costa Brava doesn’t seem like your typical swashbuckler. But as founder and head of National Geographic Society’s Pristine Seas project, he’s dived, documented and helped protect some of the most remote and beautiful underwater habitats on our blue planet.