ocean hero finalists
This is the fourth in a series of posts about this year’s Ocean Hero finalists.
For more than two decades, Peter Wallerstein has been rescuing marine animals on the coast of California.
In 1985 he founded the Whale Rescue Team, which is now part of Marine Animal Rescue (MAR), a project of Friends of Animals. Peter started a 24-hour hotline for citizens to report stranded or injured marine mammals, and he has personally rescued more than 4,000 marine mammals and birds in Southern California, from stranded dolphins to whales tangled in gillnets.
Thanks to Peter’s persistence, Los Angeles County now has the only professional marine mammal rescue team in the U.S. that conducts hundreds of rescues each year, working 24/7 if needed. In April he conducted 86 marine mammal rescues, 120 for the year so far.
Now Peter is working to address the lack of adequate care facilities for marine mammals. After a decade of work, the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) has authorized MAR to design, construct and operate a second marine mammal care facility in Los Angeles County.
This is the third in a series of posts about this year’s Ocean Hero finalists.
The featured finalist today is Zander Srodes, who, at age 11, created “Turtle Talks,” an interactive workshop and activity book that teaches kids about sea turtle conservation.
Ten years later, more than 200,000 of Zander’s “Turtle Talks” books have been printed and sent to six continents, from Cuba to Mozambique, and it has been translated into several languages, including Tamil and Telugu.
“I hope [Turtle Talks] will have a significant impact of the biodiversity of our planet,” Zander said via e-mail. “Turtle Talks promotes the message to youngsters that they are the generation that needs to become advocates for these charismatic reptiles.”
Recently Zander has expanded his sea turtle conservation efforts through eco-tourism. Last summer he hosted two groups of college students on service trips to Costa Rica, where they worked with local organizations that are preserving leatherback sea turtles.
This is the second in a series of posts about this year’s Ocean Hero finalists.
Today’s featured finalist is Nancy Caruso, who was selected for her work to protect giant kelp forests in California. Nancy was inspired to become a marine biologist at age 10, and she has been involved in ocean conservation ever since.
After working on the Orange County Giant Kelp Restoration Project, Nancy started her own non-profit organization, Get Inspired!, which teaches students to grow giant kelp in classroom nurseries. Over the last nine years, Nancy has taught 4000 students to grow giant kelp, which is then planted in the ocean by the 250 volunteer scuba divers that she trained. In addition, this year Nancy started the only program in California to restock green abalone and white sea bass, also in classroom nurseries.
In 2010 Nancy started Kelpfest!, an annual festival with a mission to celebrate giant kelp forests. Thousands turned out in April for the second annual event in Laguna Beach, which included live music, a live underwater broadcast from the kelp forest just offshore, and a scale model of a kelp forest for people to walk through.
This is the first in a series of posts about this year’s Ocean Hero finalists.
Starting today, I’ll be highlighting each of this year’s Ocean Hero finalists on the blog, since their stories deserve more space than what fits in the voting boxes at oceana.org/heroes.
First up we have Zach Rome, whose love for the oceans began at age 11, when his grandfather took him scuba diving in the Florida Keys. He was hooked, and spent subsequent summer vacations scuba diving around the world, climbing the scuba certification ladder.
He went on to study marine biology at the University of Miami, where he learned just how important and fragile the oceans are. He decided that after graduation, he would devote himself to passing on that knowledge.
After spending a few years working as a scuba instructor and middle school science teacher, he founded The Schooba Academy, a nonprofit organization based in Brooklyn, NY that teaches students from low-income communities about science through scuba diving.
We are now accepting nominations for our third annual Ocean Heroes Contest! Today we’re catching up with one of our favorites, sea turtle activist Casey Sokolovic.
Casey might look familiar - we can’t get enough of her ever since she was a nominee in the first annual Ocean Heroes contest in 2009. She’s now 13, but her parents say she still isn’t allowed to have a cell phone. Judging by all of her activities, she probably doesn’t have time to chat on the phone anyway…
Last year she had an internship at the Karen Beasley Sea Turtle Rescue and Rehabilitation Center on Topsail Island, NC. She helped with the care of the injured turtles and video blogged her experiences at her website, loveaseaturtle.com.
That’s not all. She’s also busy giving school presentations about sea turtles, and participating at camps with Boys and Girls Clubs in North Carolina. She says she really wants to inspire other kids to help, too.
We are, as ever, inspired by Casey’s dedication to sea turtles. Thanks, Casey!
Nominations end April 27, so don’t delay -- nominate an ocean hero in your life today!
We are now accepting nominations for our third annual Ocean Heroes Contest! Today we’re featuring a guest post by 2009 finalist Emily Goldstein about her summer trip to the OrcaLab in British Columbia.
Last summer I was privileged to be able to spend eight weeks studying one of the most remarkable species in our world, the orca. I want to share with you the amazing journey I had, and tell you about my time with the orcas.
Snuggled in the inside passage between British Columbia and Vancouver Island, there is a small isle called Hanson Island. This is the home of magnificent bald eagles, playful mink, and an emerald-green evergreen forest. It is also the home of a land-based research station called OrcaLab, which was founded by Dr. Paul Spong in 1970.
Earlier this week we heard the latest from one of our 2010 Ocean Heroes, Robin Culler, leader of the Shark Finatics.
Today, another update, this time from Ocean Hero finalist Sara Bayles. Sara was just featured in the Los Angeles Times for her ongoing effort to spend 20 minutes a day for 365 non-consecutive days collecting trash from her Santa Monica beach. She weighs the garbage and keeps a tally on her blog, The Daily Ocean.
We’re glad she’s getting the recognition she deserves. Kudos to you, Sara!
In addition to starting your own beach cleanup like Sara, you can take our pledge to use less plastic if you haven't already.
Today I’m pleased to bring you a guest post from Robin Culler, teacher of the 2010 Junior Ocean Heroes, the Shark Finatics.
What a year this has been for the Shark Finatics! We are still basking in the glory of being named Junior Ocean Heroes and each week many more amazing things come our way.
This past Saturday, I was privileged to be invited to a dinner honoring Palau's President Johnson Toribiong. The prestigious Ocean Heritage Award was presented to the President by the Shark Research Institute in recognition of Palau's Shark Sanctuary.
A year ago, Palau, one of the world's smallest nations, created the first ever shark sanctuary. Commercial fishing of sharks is banned in Palau's territorial waters and its exclusive economic zone, covering 240,000 square miles. More than 130 species of sharks and stingrays, which are considered either endangered or vulnerable, find safe haven in this sanctuary.
Ever heard of National Sugar Cookie Day? (No, I’m not making it up.) It’s July 9th, this Friday, and this year it marks the kick-off of The Great Bake for Oceans’ Sake.
Casey Sokolovic, 12, and Alexa BeMent, 10, are organizing The Great Bake to help save wildlife in the Gulf of Mexico. The two budding activists were searching for a way to help in the Gulf (and to get everyone else involved) and they have found the tastiest way to do so.
Oceana's 2010 Adult Ocean Heroes Award winner, Jay Holcomb, wasn't able to attend our awards party in LA a few weeks ago - he was too busy rescuing birds affected by the Gulf of Mexico oil spill. Last week, he gave the acceptance speech he didn't get a chance to give earlier in front of a large pen full of a couple dozen pelicans whose lives he saved. The birds will be released on the eastern shore of Florida.