MEET THE TEAM
Ricardo Sagarminaga Van Buiten
Founder and Head of Research at Alnitak
Ric has over 25 years experience working in conservation. Back in 1984, he combined his passion for sailing tall ships with the conservation of marine biodiversity and endangered species. He focused on monitoring and surveying apex predators and endangered species, to better design and manage marine protected areas. In 1989, he co-founded ALNITAK Marine Research and Education Center with the intention of introducing innovative environmental outreach strategies, based on active education, citizen science and public volunteering, linking conservation with the general public. Ric also founded and ran the Sociedad Espanola De Cetaceos, dedicated to the protection marine mammals, along with KAI Marine Services, which provides full technical and scientific consultancy to policy makers, combining economic growth and ocean conservation. As a result of his successful conservation efforts, Ric was awarded the ASHOKA Social Entrepreneur Fellowship in 2014, for his work with fisheries and coastal communities in the Mediterranean, Africa and Latin America.
Juan Manuel Ballestero
Skipper of the Toftevaag
Juan was a solo sailor and extreme fisherman (Alaska and the Southern Ocean), he is now skipper and underwater cameraman on board the Toftevaag. He is also a part-time Pirate in our summer education program.
Marine Biologist and Project Manager
Pilar works as a project manager for Kai Marine Services. She looks at the impact of human activities on marine environments and helps regulate human activities in protected areas.
Communications and Education Director
Jasmine earned a Bachelor’s degree in Chemistry from University of Miami and a Masters in Adaptation Biology at University of Nice Sophia-Antipolis. She spent her early career developing exhibitions and creative content for the Museum of Science in Boston and London’s Science Museum. After graduating, she spent some time monitoring coral reef health in the Caribbean and developing a passion for ocean conservation. In 2014, following an expedition to the North Atlantic Gyre, she co-founded The Sea Musketeers, an educational outreach project aimed at raising awareness of global ocean issues, such as plastic pollution and biodiversity. In 2017, Jasmine joined Alnitak to develop their educational outreach program.
Fernando Lopez Mirones
Nature and Culture Documentary Maker
Fernando is a biologist, a director and a writer. He worked on more than 130 documentary films, for companies like National Geographic, BBC, Survival and Terra Mater Made in Spain. His script for Guadalquivir was nominated for the GOYA Awards in 2016 and won a Medal from the Círculo de Escritores Cinematográficos as the first Spanish documentary film. He was a lecturer in Audiovisual Communication at the Universidad Complutense of Madrid and has over 25,000 followers on Facebook. In 1999, he directed his first documentary A Ship for Neptune, on board our research vessel, the Toftevaag. Since then, he has been closely linked with Alnitak. He frequently represents us at multiple events international events. He produced the movies “El Gran Rojo” (2005) and “Todos por la Mar” (2007). He’s currently developing audiovisual projects for Alnitak and runs Orcafilms.
Conservation Biologist and Researcher
Silvia Frey is a conservation biologist from Switzerland and holds a Ph.D. in Neurobiology from the University of Basel. Her passion for the subject of aquatic systems and the interaction between living beings and their environment, especially those of marine organisms, drove her to earn an MS degree in environmental sciences. Silvia has worked for the conservation association OceanCare for 20 years, where she is the director of Science and Education and project leader for a small-scale cetacean monitoring project in Sicily. She has been involved in different cetacean research and conservation projects, mostly in the Mediterranean Sea. Besides her dedication to the conservation of whales and dolphins, she has been engaged in sea turtle research and protection. As a conservation biologist, she is particularly interested in using scientific knowledge as a sound basis, in order to better protect marine species and their habitat. Silvia is acting as associated scientist for Alnitak and helps with the survey and volunteer program.
Marine Biologist and Researcher
In 2004, Lorenzo earned a PhD in Marine Ecology at the University of Pisa. His thesis was on the conservation and population dynamics of Mediterranean Red coral (Corallium rubrum). He continued his post-doctoral research in the Mediterranean, as well as tropical areas, including Taiwan, U.S. Virgin Islands, French Polynesia and Djibouti. In 2005, he started as a Senior Scientist for the CNRS Ocean Observatory of Banyuls-sur-mer. Since 2011, he’s been working with Alnitak on-board the Toftevaag, and for our MPA program in Djibouti. He focuses on developing population models and forecasts, mainly for coral, helping with the managment and design of marine protected areas and collaborating with the French Marine Protected Areas Agency.
Carlota Vialcho Miranda
Marine Biologist and Researcher
Carlota studied for her degree in Biology in Madrid, Argentina and The Canary Islands. In 2015, she undertook an International Master of Science in Marine Biodiversity and Conservation. She completed her Masters degree in Portugal, Italy and Ireland, where she wrote her thesis about the inshore population of bottlenose dolphins. Her passion for sailing, travelling and education led her to be involved in different projects, mostly focused on cetacean research; BIOECOMAC off El Hierro Island, CIMA Foundation in the Pelagos Sanctuary and the RV Celtic Explorer off the coast of Ireland. She has also worked with the Biosphere Foundation in Bali and more recently on the Atyla Tall Ship in Bilbao. In the summer of 2017 she joined Alnitak as part of the Libera Project with ECOEMBES and is now a marine biologist aboard the Toftevaag.
Carolina Molina Domínguez
Biologist and Dive Instructor
Carolina has always loved the sea and studied marine biology, management and conservation of marine resources and management of Parks and Natural Reserves. She dedicated her career to marine conservation projects and environmental education and is currently collaborating with Asociación Ondine through their Dos Manos School Programme. With Alnitak, she is liaising with nautical organisations in the Balearic Sea to help us monitor and map marine litter through the MARNOBA APP and the LIBERA Project with ECOEMBES.
Beat von Niederhaeusern
Boatswain of the Toftevaag
Beat has a versatile set of skills and takes care of different maintenance activities on-board the Toftevaag. He started out his career as a farmer and agricultural engineer in Switzerland and then worked in IT-engineering. As member of OceanCare, he has a great interest in the ocean and life in the ocean, as well as any conservation or ocean based activities.