Cart 0



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.


Pilar Zorzo

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.


Jasmine Spavieri

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.


Sophie Ruge


Sophie joined Alnitak as a deckhand in the summer of 2017. She has since spent every spare moment of her summers on board the Toftevaag, learning the ropes and eventually graduating to the position of skipper. This summer has been Sophie’s first season as a captain and expedition lead for the ship. Proving wise beyond her years and showing true leadership skills on-board, we expect the future to hold great things for Captain Sophie!


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.


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.

Anna6 (1 von 1).jpeg

Anna Suter

Photography and Logistics

As a child, Anna wanted to become a marine biologist and study whales. But, growing up in Switzerland, she was too far from the sea and her restless mind forgot about her childhood dreams. She studied law in Zurich and then became a photo editor in a Swiss News Photo Agency. In 2017, she decided to finally follow the whales and joined Alnitak as a volunteer. Since then, she has become a core member of the Alnitak summer crew. One of her various roles on-board is documenting work and life on the Toftevaag. She is happy to see a lot of her photographs on the Alnitak webpage and social media channels.


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.

oceancare sylvia frey.jpg

Silvia Frey

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.


Lorenzo Bramanti

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.



Since her conversion in 1990, the Toftevaag has been a meeting place and working platform for over 3.000 scientists, teachers, filmmakers, corporate teams, volunteers and students from over 87 countries around the planet. Our ship is a floating laboratory for research and conservation around the globe. Today, we continue our heritage through our educational and citizen science program, inviting people of all ages and backgrounds to learn about and contribute to the conservation of biodiversity.

Our endeavours are made possible through the support and collaboration of our sponsors:

Part of the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Environment, the Fundación Biodiversidad was set up in 1998. Its mission is to help protect and conserve Spain’s natural heritage and biodiversity. The foundation carries out large conservation projects, and also provides funding to develop the projects of NGOs, research bodies, universities, and so on. Each year the foundation collaborates with more than 300 projects. With the support of Fundación Biodivesridad, ALNITAK’s primary objective is to protect and preserve the biodiversity around the Parque Nacional del Archipiélago de Cabrera and the Reserva de la Biosfera de Menorca.

Ecoembes is a non-profit environmental organization that promotes a circular economy through the recycling of plastic packaging. In partnership with SEO Birdlife, it created the LIBERA project. The objective of this initiative is to raise awareness and mobilize citizens to maintain natural spaces free from litter. LIBERA’s approach to the problem of marine litter is to help with knowledge, prevention and participation.  ALNITAK is heavily invested in the reduction of marine litter, both through education and research.  This year, we will be studying and and mapping the movement of microplastics and larger marine litter in the Mediterranean Sea.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Marine Turtle Conservation Fund is working to ensure the long-term survival of sea turtle species around the planet. To successfully protect these wide ranging oceanic travellers, its important that countries sharing the same oceans cooperate closely. Our partnership with the USFWS is allowing ALNITAK to continue its research efforts, deployed in the tracking and tagging of Caretta caretta, the loggerhead sea turtle. Our OASIS project is helping us understand the habits and movements of the Atlantic populations, as they journey from Floridian beaches to the Mediterranean Sea. We are able to track these beautiful animals real time and protect them against bycatch and other dangerous human impacts.

OceanCare has been committed to marine wildlife protection since 1989, taking concrete steps to improve the situation for wildlife in the world’s oceans. In 2011, it was granted Special Consultative Status on marine issues with the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations. OceanCare collaborates closely with ALNITAK and KAI Marine to improve the management and conservation status of dolphins, whales and sea turtles in the waters surrounding the Balearic Islands. It is mostly involved in our citizen science surveys, helping us to continually research the movements, habitat use and ecology of loggerhead sea turtles, sperm whales, beaked whales, pilot whales, striped dolphins, common dolphins, Risso’s dolphins, and bluefin tuna.

Ashoka Changemaker Schools enable all students to become changemakers—young people who have the skills and confidence to change the world for the benefit of all. Ashoka has pioneered the field of social entrepreneurship—successfully implementing system-changing solutions to human and environmental problems in areas of need. Students are learning the essential skills of empathy, creativity, leadership, and teamwork at Ashoka Changemaker Schools, so they can thrive in the modern world and find solutions to our most complex problems. Ashoka is working with ALNITAK supporting and promoting our Changemakers At Sea competition amongst their school network.

Asociación Ondine works towards the creation and effective management of a network of Marine Protected Areas in the Balearic sea. Their Dos Manos Schools Programme explores the issue of plastic in the marine environment and the effect this has on our marine life and ourselves. It is offered to local schools with the aim of reaching and engaging as many students, teachers and parents as possible into marine conservation. It inspires and empowers students to find innovative solutions to common problems caused by plastic pollution. ALNITAK and Ondine are working together to involve students in our Changemakers At Sea competition – all about finding solutions to plastic pollution. Winning teams will be invited on board our expedition vessel for a marine science adventure!


Click on the logo to find out more about our collaborators:

Our past collaborations include but are not limited to: 

ASHOKA Foundation, OCEANCARE, NOAA, NOAA NMFS, USFWS, SOCIB, ECOEMBES, 5 GYRES, Asociacion ONDINE, Fundación Biodiversidad, The Sea Musketeers, KAI Marine, SOCIB, US Fish and Wildlife Services, Stanford University – Hopkins Marine Station, Tag a Giant, Duke University Marine Lab, BBC Wildvision, New Atlantis Films, Orca Films, Transglobe Films, ARTE TV, TV Bavaria, the University of St. Andrews – Sea mammal Research Unit (SMRU), National Geographic Crittercam, EARTHWATCH Institute, the Pew Foundation, the Fundación Biodiversidad, the University of Aarhus, the University of Madrid (UAM), the Spanish Oceanographic Institute (I.E.O.), KAI Marine Services, HYDRA Institute, the Danish Fisheries Institute (DTU), Woodshole Oceanographic Institution, IFREMER, GTMF, ACCOBAMS, MISSION BLUE, NATO NURC, the European Commission LIFE and Fisheries Funding Programmes 

ALNITAK counts also on the support of the European Fisheries Fund, the Fundación Biodiversidad and the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Environment, the Global Environment Facility UNDP, UNEP and FAO, ACCOBAMS – GFCM – MAVA Foundation, Mission Blue and Coca Cola Spain.


Work with us.

If you would like to partner with us, fill out the form below and we will get back to you.

Name *