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.
So why does Nancy care so much about giant kelp, you ask? Giant kelp is the largest seaweed on Earth, growing at the amazing rate of 24 inches per day in ideal conditions, and reaching lengths of over 100 ft in a year. Many marine species rely on giant kelp, including sea otters, who take refuge in kelp forests. Sea otters also keep sea urchin populations in check; urchins have destroyed giant kelp in areas where otters were hunted.
Finally, a fun fact: Following in a long line of sea captains in her family dating back to 1850, Nancy recently earned her captain’s license. So that’s Captain Caruso to you!
Have you voted yet? Check out the other finalists, cast your vote and spread the word! And stay tuned for more spotlighted finalists in the coming days!