This is the eleventh in a series of posts about this year’s Ocean Hero finalists.
Today’s featured junior ocean hero finalist is 12-year-old Dylan Vecchione, who was nominated for his commitment to coral reef conservation.
Dylan first became enamored with coral reefs at age seven, when he visited Maui’s Kahekili reef. A year later, when he noticed that sections of the Kahekili were bleached and covered in algae, he decided to “adopt” it. Since then, his efforts have evolved into ReefQuest, an organization that now spans 23 countries over three continents.
ReefQuest’s mission is to engage kids in reef conservation and stewardship through science-based activities. The University of Queensland trained Dylan to utilize a specialized coral monitoring tool called “CoralWatch” which is being used around the world to monitor coral health.
Since Dylan started it, more than 4,000 kids have taken ReefQuest sponsored classes, offered by teachers in 43 states and 23 different countries, including Australia, Malaysia, the Philippines and the UAE. And In 2010 ReefQuest started a survey of six key sites in Hawaii to map and monitor coral health using the Coral Watch protocol and a NOAA-endorsed protocol. Dylan led the dive teams and collected the data.
This year Dylan plans to use ReefQuest underwater images and video to develop a virtual reef to support classroom and field experiments by kids.
He was also nominated for the President’s Environmental Youth Award, a program run by the White House and the EPA. And as if you weren’t already impressed, Dylan is also a nationally ranked competitive sailor.
Here’s a video of Dylan explaining ReefQuest’s work:
Only a few more days to vote! Check out the other finalists, cast your vote and spread the word! And stay tuned for more spotlighted finalists in the coming days.