You’ve been waiting with bated breath to find out who this year’s Ocean Heroes are, and the time has finally come to announce our winners!
We received over 400 fantastic nominations this year, and narrowed it down to six adult finalists and five junior finalists. Thousands of your votes determined the winners, and we’re excited to announce that our adult Ocean Hero is Captain Don Voss and our Junior Ocean Hero is James Hemphill.
Captain Don Voss, from Fort Pierce, Florida, is the owner of the Marine Cleanup Initiative Inc., a debris collection organization that cleans up Florida’s waterways. Over the last 11 years, the company has grown from six volunteers to over 400, who have collectively removed over 300,000 pounds of marine debris. Don started SCUBA diving as a form of therapy after he was wounded in Vietnam, and his love for the ocean motivated him to help clean up the waterways that he loved to dive in.
Don was thrilled to hear that he had won, and is excited for the future of his work.
“I’m 64 now and keep thinking I’ll go back to recreational diving, but every time I go back in the water I find myself picking up debris. People need to understand that this is an ecosystem and that every one thing affects the next thing… What I’ve learned from my grandchildren, if you want an adult to stop doing something, you tell the kids. I’m hoping is that I can get more kids involved with diving, I can get less debris in the water and the water quality improves.”
And if there’s any kid who’s involved with getting debris out of the water, it’s our Junior Ocean Hero, James Hemphill. At 15 years old, James has already been working in ocean conservation for several years. He’s the president of Project Green Teens, a student-run environmental group that promotes conservation in Virginia Beach. They have removed 2,300 pounds of trash from Virginia waterways, and are currently working on a plastic bag ban in Virginia Beach.
James wants kids his age to know that getting involved in conservation is easy, and you can make a big difference by making some changes in your lifestyle.
“Start out with the little creeks that run into the ocean and start small where you can physically see the results. Get a group of friends that are interested and experiment. There’s no such thing as failure… it’s just a matter of how much effort you’re willing to put into it.”
Congratulations to Don and James, and all of our amazing finalists!
Thanks to our corporate sponsors at Nautica and Revo Sunglasses for helping make the Ocean Heroes Awards possible. Our winners will receive a prize package that includes a $500 gift card to Nautica and a pair of Revo sunglasses, made with a 100% recycled frame and polarized lenses, perfect for spending days out on the water.
Heading out of town for the fourth of July? As with any trip, you need a great destination and some tunes for the ride.
Our Ocean Heroes finalists have spent time on the beach and on the water, learning to appreciate and protect all the ocean has to offer. Each shoreline has its own unique qualities that make it special. We asked our finalists for their favorite ocean destination -- maybe some of them are heading there this week for the holiday!
We also asked them to pick their favorite ocean-related songs and bands, and we put together a Spotify playlist
Check out their answers below!
Place: My home beach, Rosemary Beach.
Song: The B-52's / Rock Lobster
Place: Little Cayman Island, Qamea, Fiji or Yap
Song: Adele / Rolling in the Deep
Place: St. Augustine, FL, where I live
Song: The Beach Boys / Good Vibrations
Place: I have lived on the ocean most of my life, and have traveled the world's oceans and coasts. I'd love to return to the NW Hawaiian Islands, the Oregon Coast, the South Pacific, Papua New Guinea, Mauritania, the coast of British Columbia, the Katmai coast in Alaska, St. Lawrence Island, Nunivak Island, Bering Strait, the Aleutians, the Arctic coast, Great Barrier Reef, and Prince William Sound (before the Exxon Valdez oil spill).
Song: Pat Benatar / Hit Me With Your Best Shot
Place: The Caribbean
Song: Jack Johnson / Good People
Place: That's a tough question, I enjoy many areas and terrain the beaches and ocean provide from Laguna Beach, Maine to the Oregon coast.
Song: Van Morrison / Into the Mystic
Place: Cumberland Island, Georgia
Song: George Fenton / Spinning Dolphins
Place: Florida Keys or Hawai'i
Song: Katy Perry / Part of Me
The Calvineers: Editor’s Note: This message comes from Bill McWeeny, the Principal Investigator and mentor for the Calvineers.
Place: I live directly on a small estuary in Maine. I cannot think of a better place to be. I imagine many of the Calvineers will grow up wanting to live near the sea since exploring and sailing and swimming are so much a part of their lives.
Song: Calvin Harris/ Feel So Close
Place: The Bahamas
Song: Bob Marley & The Wailers / Three Little Birds
Place: Cape town, South Africa
Song: Red Hot Chili Peppers / Can't Stop
You can check out all of these songs on our Spotify playlist.
Don’t forget to vote for your favorite finalists, you have until July 11th to cast your vote!
Photo Credits (clockwise from top left): Cape Town, South Africa: Wikimedia Commons, Bahamas: Ricymar Fine Art Photography (via Flickr), Fiji: Miguel Sancheese (via Flickr), Bering Strait: NOAA, Caribbean: Franco Caruzzo (via Flickr), St. Augustine, FL: NOAA, Cumberland Island: NOAA, Laguna Beach: NOAA, Hawaii: Wikimedia Commons/Frank Schulenburg, Rosemary Beach: Chad Raggio (via Flickr), Maine Estuary: Pleasant River Wildlife Foundation (middle)
Exploring the oceans from one of these animals points of view would be an exciting (and eye opening) experience.
So what marine animal would you be if you had the chance to be any creature in the ocean? We posed this question to our Ocean Heroes finalists, and here’s what they had to say. See if you can match their responses to the pictures above (answers at the bottom of this post)!
Michele Hunter – Harbor seal
Hardy Jones – Sperm whale
Kristofor Lofgren – Mako shark
Dave Rauschkolb – Porpoise
Richard Steiner – Polar bear (I like the odds and the challenge they face)
Donald Voss – Humpback whale
Sara Brenes – Tiger Shark
Calvineers – Blue whale
Sam Harris – Tiger Shark
James Hemphill – Hawksbill Sea Turtle (I have always been amazed at all the colors on its shell and how gracefully and peacefully it swims)
Teakahla WhiteCloud – Dolphin
Make sure to vote for your favorite Ocean Heroes, open from now until July 11th. Stay tuned to learn more about our finalists!
Photo Credits (clockwise from top left): Sperm Whale: Oceana/Juan Cuentos, Tiger Shark: Albert Kok, Harbor Seal: NOAA, Hawksbill Turtle: NOAA/Caroline Rogers, Porpoise: NOAA, Tiger Shark: Austin Gallagher, Humpback Whale: NOAA, Dolphin: Oceana/Eduardo Sorenson, Mako Shark: NOAA, Polar bear: NOAA, Blue Whale: NOAA (middle)
We’ve gathered hundreds of nominations for this year’s Ocean Heroes Contest and over the next 6 days, Oceana’s Finalist Selection Committee will have the difficult task of choosing six Adult and six Junior Finalists. They will be announced on June 27 and the rest is in your hands – you’ll vote to decide who will be the 2012 Ocean Heroes.
In the meantime, I’d like to use this break in the action to recognize our two primary sponsors for the Ocean Heroes Contest – Nautica and Revo Sunglasses. When the recovery of the world’s oceans is your primary mission, it’s good to have allies who are willing to put substantial capital and resources towards that mission.
I’ll have more to write about Nautica in the coming weeks, but let’s start with Revo, a partner since 2011. Revo’s support for Oceana begins with our habitat protection campaigns, as the official eyewear partner of our expedition work and extends to the Ocean Heroes Awards, which – as you know – is a program aimed at highlighting and celebrating the achievements of concerned activists, researchers, educators, rehabilitators, conservationists and just about anyone else who pours their heart into the protection of our oceans.
This concept –honoring real heroes – is mirrored by Revo’s own choices for their brand ambassadors. They’re not superstar athletes or famous musicians, but artists, environmentalists and adventurers, like mountain climber Jimmy Chin, explorer Sebastian Copeland and ocean activist Alexandra Cousteau. Coincidentally, Alexandra recently joined Oceana as a Scientific Advisor.
Just last month, Alexandra joined our expedition in the Baltic Sea to help its crew explore the Baltic’s brackish waters and collect data that will assist Oceana in conservation and fisheries management proposals. Because of her association with Oceana, you won’t find Alexandra listed among the finalists for the Ocean Heroes Awards next Wednesday, but you will find 6 adults and 6 young people whose spirit, dedication and energy make them, like Alexandra, valuable artillery in the fight to the protect the world’s oceans.
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.
Happy World Oceans Day!
The ocean does a lot for us — it generates much of the oxygen we breathe, provides us with nutritious food to eat and regulates our climate. But if we want to hold onto these valuable resources, we have to take care of the ocean the way it takes care of us.
Today marks the 20th annual World Oceans Day, a chance for us to protect our most valuable resource. We’ve put together five ways for you to celebrate World Oceans Day (even if you’re nowhere near an ocean)
1. Go to the Beach What better way to celebrate World Oceans Day than to go straight to the source? If you’re lucky enough to live near the water, get a group together and head down to the shore. Pack a picnic (but no single-use plastic bags or bottles, please!) and spend the day learning about the ocean firsthand.
2. Visit an Aquarium If you can’t get out to the beach, try the next best thing. Aquariums let you see unique marine life that you wouldn’t encounter anywhere else. They also do a lot of great research and conservation so that we can protect our marine resources. Many aquariums and zoos are hosting special events for World Oceans Day, see if there are special events at one near you.
3. Clean Up Help keep the marine environment clean by participating in a river, bay, or ocean cleanup today — you might be surprised by what you find! You can find a cleanup event near you on the World Oceans Day website.
4. Adopt a Sea Creature Oceana works hard to protect all kinds of marine life, from sharks to penguins to sea turtles, and everything in between. You can support our efforts by adopting an animal.
5. Nominate an Ocean Hero Our fourth annual Ocean Heroes contest just started, and we’re looking for the most dedicated ocean activists we can find. If you know someone who’s doing great things for the ocean, tell us about them!
If you want to celebrate World Oceans Day with Oceana, we’ll be at the National Aquarium in Baltimore, Maryland today. Our 2009 Ocean Hero John Halas will dive in two of their exhibits with National Aquarium CEO John Racanelli. They’re also hosting special events all weekend, including scavenger hunts and book signings with Debbie Dadey, author of the Mermaid Tales book series.
We hope you have a wonderful World Oceans Day, and remember to look out for the oceans every day of the year!
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.
The Florida ocean conservation community said farewell to one of its greatest servants this week. John Halas, who was the winner of Oceana’s first annual Ocean Heroes contest, has retired after nearly 32 years of work protecting coral reefs in Florida.
Halas, a marine biologist and manager of the Upper Region of the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary, has been working to protect coral systems in Florida since 1981. After observing coral damage caused by careless anchoring, he took it upon himself to develop an environmentally friendly anchor and mooring buoy system that prevents damage to coral reefs and has worked to implement this anchorage system in 38 countries.
We’re sad to see John go but wish him a very happy retirement!
Stay tuned for this year’s Ocean Heroes contest, which kicks off with nominations on World Oceans Day, June 8.
Hey ocean lovers, the fall issue of our digital magazine is now available! There's lots of fun stuff inside as usual; here are some of the gems this time around:
*A gorgeous video from our expedition in the Baltic Sea this summer
*A slideshow of photos from this year’s Hamptons Splash party – and a catchy tune by the Honey Brothers with Oceana ambassador Adrian Grenier
*Victory! Chile ends shark finning (warning: includes some gruesome footage)
*Stunning underwater video from this year’s expedition in the Mediterranean
*The 2011 Ocean Heroes – shark loving youngster Sophi Bromenshenkel and marine mammal rescuer Peter Wallerstein
Check out the full issue to see the videos, photos and stories, and spread the word!
The new issue of Oceana magazine is hot off the press! In this issue, you’ll learn about our latest news and victories, and lots more, including:
*Profiles of our 2011 Ocean Heroes, shark-loving Sophi Bromenshenkel and sea lion-rescuing Peter Wallerstein
*A thought-provoking Q&A with environmental lawyer Robert F. Kennedy Jr.
*The lowdown on our new campaign to combat Seafood Fraud
*A report on this summer’s expedition in the icy Baltic Sea
*Photos from our recent events: Hamptons Splash, Christie’s Green Auction and World Oceans Day
Check it out and pass it on!