By Emily Fisher
Every year, Oceana asks its supporters to help us nominate and ultimately select two individuals who are making a real difference for our oceans. This year, Oceana’s Ocean Heroes are an eight-year-old shark lover in Minnesota and a marine mammal rescuer in California.
Peter Wallerstein was on the beach helping a stranded California sea lion when Oceana called to tell him he had been named the 2011 adult Ocean Hero. It’s a fitting title for a man who has spent more than two decades working to protect beached marine mammals in southern California.
In 1985, Peter founded the Whale Rescue Team, which is now part of Marine Animal Rescue (MAR), a project of Friends of Animals. He started a 24-hour hotline for citizens to report beached or injured marine mammals, and he has personally rescued more than 4,000 marine mammals and birds in Southern California, from beached dolphins to whales tangled in gillnets.