Rick MacPherson is a coral reef ecologist, conservationist, and strategist with three decades of experience in helping local coral reef communities solve environmental challenges. He has worked worldwide in field-based science, coral reef and shark conservation, marine protected area planning and management, and conservation advocacy. His special focus and interest in the intersection of ocean conservation and dive tourism arose as a PADI certified diver for over 35 years, where he has witnessed the decline of coral reefs and shark populations during his lifetime. In response, Rick has become a passionate advocate and thought leader on the role of sustainable tourism as a lever for conservation.
Rick has documented the growth of shark dive tourism as a global industry and has assisted governments and stakeholders in establishing stronger legislative protections for sharks as an investment in shark dive tourism potential. This work has resulted in the creation of over six national-scale shark sanctuaries throughout the Caribbean in the past three years and the launch of sustainablesharkdiving.com, the world’s first “Trip Advisor” for rating and reviewing shark dive tourism businesses.
With a belief and expertise in collaborative, community-driven solutions, Rick has brokered conservation partnerships across governments, corporations, NGOs, private sector, and local communities to arrive at pragmatic solutions to complex environmental problems. Rick’s talent at uniting communities in support of ocean conservation were critical to the successful expansion of the Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument by President Obama in 2016 where he served as State-wide lead on generating public support for the expansion. His efforts resulted in the creation of the world’s largest protected area (land or sea) and a massive refuge for sharks in the Pacific.
Rick is principal and founder of Pelagia Consulting, a California-based ocean science and conservation consultancy. In 2013, he was awarded the Oris/Scuba Diving Magazine Sea Hero of the Year Award in recognition of his achievements in ocean conservation.