Press Release

National Geographic Explorer Enric Sala Receives Prestigious Award from Oceanographic Institute of Monaco

Prince Albert I Grand Medal awarded for Sala’s dedication and service to the ocean

November 22, 2021—Today, the Oceanographic Institute, Prince Albert I of Monaco Foundation awarded National Geographic Explorer and Pristine Seas founder Enric Sala the Prince Albert I Grand Medal, the highest international distinction dedicated to ocean sciences that has been awarded since 1948.

Every year the Oceanographic Institute, Prince Albert I of Monaco Foundation honors the great names of the marine world who, by their commitment and their work, help to promote the knowledge, love and protection of the ocean. The Mediation Section award, received by Sala, highlights the commitment of men and women in public life who work in service of the ocean, not just as scientists but also as leading public figures who take action and have made an impact to raise awareness and protect our ocean.

Sala left academia to found and lead National Geographic Pristine Seas, a project that combines exploration, research, policy and media to inspire country leaders to protect the ocean. Together, they have helped inspire the creation of 24 marine reserves protecting more than 6.5 million square kilometers of ocean. Sala and members of the Pristine Seas team have published more than 250 scientific publications, produced 30 films, completed 35 expeditions to many of the world’s most remote places and worked with local communities, Indigenous Peoples, governments and partners to establish marine protected areas, ensuring the health of our ocean for generations to come.

“This award is an incredible honor. I am deeply grateful to HSH Prince Albert II of Monaco and his Foundation for being recognized, and want to acknowledge the critical work of the incredible Pristine Seas team who have been working alongside me for more than a decade to study and conserve our ocean.” said Enric Sala

Over the next 10 years, Sala and Pristine Seas will continue to work with local communities, governments and partners to establish 40 new marine protected areas and catalyze the global community to protect at least 30 percent of the ocean by 2030.

About National Geographic Pristine Seas

National Geographic Pristine Seas is an exploration, research and media project founded and led by National Geographic Explorer in Residence Enric Sala. The Pristine Seas team is comprised of determined scientists, policy experts and filmmakers who work to inspire the creation of protected areas where marine life can thrive—while ensuring effective management for years to come. Pristine Seas has helped to inspire the creation of 24 marine reserves, an area totalling over 6.5M square kilometers. Learn more at

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