World Oceans Day was this past Friday, and as we mentioned in our last post, Oceana headed up to the National Aquarium in Baltimore to take part in their special celebration of the seas.
Divers enter the aquariums exhibits every day to feed the animals and clean the tanks, but on Friday there was a very special dive. National Aquarium CEO John Racanelli joined Oceana’s very first Ocean Hero, John Halas, for excursions into the Atlantic coral reef and Wings on the Water exhibits.
The Atlantic coral reef exhibit was John Halas’ first aquarium dive, but far from his first experience with that ecosystem. He earned the Ocean Hero award in 2009 for his more than 30 years of working to protect coral reef systems in Florida. He retired earlier this year, but has been busy traveling to places like Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago to help install environmentally friendly buouy systems.
In Wings on the Water, John Halas got to meet Calypso, the friendly three-flippered sea turtle that lives in the Aquarium. You can check out video from both dives and interviews with John Racanelli and John Halas over at the Baltimore Sun.
Do you know someone who does great things for the oceans like John? Nominations for our 2012 Ocean Heroes Award are open now and we’re searching for people of all ages and backgrounds who are working hard to protect the world’s oceans. Don’t forget to get your nominations in by June 20th!
Many thanks to the National Aquarium for hosting us and doing such great work to protect the world’s oceans.
Is someone in your community doing great things for the oceans? We want to hear about them!
Nominations for our fourth annual Ocean Heroes Awards open today and we’re searching for people who work hard to make a difference and deserve to be recognized for it. Each year we choose a selection of adult and junior finalists, then let you vote to pick the winners.
What does it mean to be an Ocean Hero? The other day we took a look at previous finalists’ areas of interest, ranging from SCUBA and submarines to marine mammals and sea slugs. They work to influence lawmakers, rehabilitate animals, and reduce pollution. Every Ocean Hero is different, but they all share a passion for the world’s oceans that drives them to make a difference.
You can nominate an Ocean Hero between now and June 20th — that gives you two weeks to tell us about your friends who are working to protect the oceans. This Friday, June 8th is World Oceans Day, a good chance to look out for Heroes in your community.
We will announce the finalists on June 27th, and let you all choose our 2012 Ocean Heroes. The winners will receive a prize package that includes fantastic gifts from our corporate sponsors, Nautica and Revo.
If you read the blog yesterday, you may recall two things: (1) the 4th Annual Ocean Heroes Contest kicks off on June 6, and (2) nearly 1/3 of Ocean Heroes finalists hail from California. Now while the a significant proportion of finalists in the contest’s first three years have been from the same state, our 30 previous finalists cover a wide breadth of conservation issues.
For starters, if you were to ask, ‘How are the Ocean Heroes finalists helping the oceans?’, then I’d tell you there are – in my opinion – seven unique areas where people can invest their time: Political Activism, Habitat Conservation, Education, Pollution Reduction, Animal Rehabilitation, Research, and Promoting Sustainability. As you can see in the chart below, most finalists are politically active –from three girls scouts in Hawaii who rallied the state legislature to make World Oceans Day an official holiday to a physics and math professor in California who pushed Italian officials to end drilling in her native region of Abruzzo, which sits east of Rome on the Adriatic Sea.
Now that you see there are many different ways to put your energy into ocean conservation, you may ask, “Where is all that energy being focused?’. Amazingly, there’s no end to the different areas of focus where our Ocean Heroes commit their time and energy – SCUBA lessons for underprivileged kids (Education), developing a mooring buoy system to protect coral reefs (Conservation), saving stranded marine mammals (Rehabilitation), and the list goes on and on. As you can see in the pie chart below, marine mammals and sharks are the most popular focal points for our Ocean Heroes Finalists, but even an intense interest in sea slugs (Bonnie Lei, ’10) can earn someone a bid as an Ocean Heroes Finalist.
So, whether you want to nominate yourself or someone else for conservation, education or activism, know that there’s no one sure-fire area of focus that makes someone an Ocean Hero Finalist – it’s about dedication and having an impact.
Oceana’s 4th annual Ocean Heroes Contest kicks off June 6, which gives you one week to think about this question: “Who do I know that works hard for the oceans and deserves recognition?”
From work in activism to conservation, from education to rehabilitation, from sustainability to research, there are likely tens of thousands – if not hundreds of thousands – of people who’d make good nominees. This makes it difficult for Oceana’s selection committee to narrow down so many candidates to six youth and six adult finalists.
But do you want some clues on where good nominees live? Allow me to share some statistics collected over the previous three contests (and please note… this is a pretty small sample size):
State Where Most Finalists Live: California. Nearly 1/3 of Ocean Heroes Finalists reside in the Golden State.
Coastal States That Have Never Produced a Finalist: Washington, Oregon, Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, South Carolina, Virginia, Maryland, Connecticut, Rhode Island and New Hampshire. This probably has more to do with the small sample size rather than a lack of Ocean Heroes in these states, so nominate the Ocean Heroes near you — it's a matter of state pride.
Landlocked States That Have Produced Finalists: Kentucky, Minnesota, and Washington DC. The nearest ocean being 1000 miles away didn’t stop a shy Minnesota 8-year-old named Sophi Bromenshenkel from selling enough lemonade, hot chocolate and cookies to purchase satellite shark tags for the RJ Dunlap Marine Conservation Program at the University of Miami. And, by the way, this land-locked shark-lover won the junior vote and became our 2011 Junior Ocean Hero!
Remember, nominations begin on June 6!
We are inspired and impressed by the efforts of several young sea turtle conservationists, and I just had to share their stories with you:
When she was just 6 years old on a trip to Bali, Indonesia with her parents, Hannah Bywater visited a sea turtle sanctuary and was inspired to contribute to the cause. Now, at age 10, Hannah has already raised $7,000 for sea turtle preservation. Some of that money has funded the construction of an artificial reef – “Hannah’s Reef” – off the coast of Pemuturan, Bali, Indonesia. “This artificial reef will provide food and shelter for the very turtles I’ve been able to release from the sea turtle sanctuary,” Hannah noted.
Hannah has recently expanded her conservation efforts to include the orangutans of Sumatra, Indonesia, and it’s unlikely that she’ll stop there – “My goal is to help save all the animals that could become extinct,” she asserted. There’s no doubt that any endangered species would be lucky to have Hannah on their team.
Starting next week, the 17th Special Meeting of the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT) will meet in Paris, France. It’s another year, and another chance for the international body to take greater action to prevent the extinction of bluefin tuna, and to better protect sharks, swordfish and sea turtles.
We will have a team of scientists in Paris, and they will be calling on ICCAT to do the following:
* Suspend the bluefin tuna fishery until a system is implemented that follows the scientific advice on catch levels, stops illegal fishing and protects bluefin tuna spawning areas in the Gulf of Mexico and Mediterranean.