ocean heroes 2010
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.
The 2010 Junior Ocean Hero Winners are the Shark Finatics, a group of students at Green Chimneys School in Brewster, New York who have raised more than $2,000 for shark research and conservation organizations around the world - and an immeasurable amount of awareness about shark finning.
We spoke to the Finatics' teacher, Robin Culler, who was overjoyed to hear that her students had been named Ocean Heroes.
How does it feel to win this award?
Words can't even begin to describe how it feels winning this award! The Finatics have many friends and fans, around the world, who have been such a great support since the very beginning. The kids can't even begin to comprehend the magnitude of all of this. I'm not sure I can either!
It seems we are living in a time when the oceans really need a hero.
Because of the situation in the Gulf, oceans and our environment are making major daily news. To be winning recognition for all of our work in shark conservation at this time is extremely poignant.
It is unfortunate that it often takes a catastrophe, such as the oil spill, for people to sit up and pay attention to the state of our oceans. I doubt the average person even knows that over 70% of the oxygen we breathe comes from our oceans. Unhealthy oceans will trickle down to unhealthy us.
This year’s Adult Ocean Hero is Jay Holcomb, the Executive Director of the International Bird Rescue Research Center (IBRRC). As I wrote a few weeks ago, Jay is down on the Gulf Coast leading his organization’s efforts to clean up oiled birds from the Deepwater Horizon spill.
How does it feel to win this award?
In a nut shell, it feels really great. I never did the work I do expecting to be awarded for it. My career stems from a passion that has burned in me since I was a child. Being recognized for helping to protect and represent the oceans more or less justifies the sacrifices I have made in my life for my work.
The timing is pretty incredible, huh?
It’s ironic and poignant that I won this award while I am in the midst of what is looking like the greatest oil spill disaster of all time, and that of course is polluting the ocean and the ecosystems within it.
The impact on the ocean and the world will be severe. This we know. But as horrible as this spill is, the timing may be perfect. This disaster is an opportunity to make the point that the ocean systems are the lifeblood of life on earth as we know it.
Look at what our quest for oil has done, and if this does not evoke a change in how we "fuel" our world then nothing will. We are ALL responsible for this. Not just BP or the oil industry or our government.
Happy World Oceans Day!
I hope you are out frolicking near the shore, but if, like most of us, you are stuck indoors, check out this list of things you can do to show your love for the oceans.
And now, for the exciting part. Thousands of you voted over the past month, and I’m tickled to announce the winners of this year’s Ocean Heroes contest. Drum roll, please:
In case you forgot, tomorrow is World Oceans Day. Don’t live near the ocean, you say? Or don’t know how to express your gratitude to our blue marble? Not to worry. Here are a few ideas - feel free to add your own in the comments.
1. Sign the petition to stop offshore drilling. We’re trying to get 500,000 signatures this summer, and we have a long way to go, so pass it on via e-mail, Facebook, Twitter, bullhorn, carrier pigeon, sandwich board, etc. You can also do your own petition drive by gathering signatures with our printable petition, then mail them to us. And you can sign up to learn about oil spill volunteer opportunities in your area.
2. Pledge to help protect the oceans - whatever that may mean for you, whether it be using less plastic, cleaning up your local beach or contacting your representative about your pet ocean issue. For every pledge we receive, one dollar from an anonymous donor goes toward our efforts to protect the seven seas. And again, please pass it on! (See #1 for details).
3. Help us make sure another oil spill catastrophe like this doesn’t happen again. Text "OCEAN" to 50555 to make a $5 donation to Oceana. Or you can donate the old-fashioned way, online.
What are your plans this World Oceans Day? Let us know in the comments.