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‚Äôre 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‚Äô 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‚Äôs oceans that drives them to make a difference.
You can nominate an Ocean Hero between now and June 20th ‚ÄĒ 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.
If you read the blog yesterday, you may recall two things: (1) the 4th Annual Ocean Heroes Contest kicks off on June 6, and (2) nearly 1/3 of Ocean Heroes finalists hail from California. Now while the a significant proportion of finalists in the contest‚Äôs first three years have been from the same state, our 30 previous finalists cover a wide breadth of conservation issues.
For starters, if you were to ask, ‚ÄėHow are the Ocean Heroes finalists helping the oceans?‚Äô, then I‚Äôd tell you there are ‚Äď in my opinion ‚Äď seven unique areas where people can invest their time: Political Activism, Habitat Conservation, Education, Pollution Reduction, Animal Rehabilitation, Research, and Promoting Sustainability. As you can see in the chart below, most finalists are politically active ‚Äďfrom three girls scouts in Hawaii who rallied the state legislature to make World Oceans Day an official holiday to a physics and math professor in California who pushed Italian officials to end drilling in her native region of Abruzzo, which sits east of Rome on the Adriatic Sea.
Now that you see there are many different ways to put your energy into ocean conservation, you may ask, ‚ÄúWhere is all that energy being focused?‚Äô. Amazingly, there‚Äôs no end to the different areas of focus where our Ocean Heroes commit their time and energy ‚Äď SCUBA lessons for underprivileged kids (Education), developing a mooring buoy system to protect coral reefs (Conservation), saving stranded marine mammals (Rehabilitation), and the list goes on and on. As you can see in the pie chart below, marine mammals and sharks are the most popular focal points for our Ocean Heroes Finalists, but even an intense interest in sea slugs (Bonnie Lei, ‚Äô10) can earn someone a bid as an Ocean Heroes Finalist.
So, whether you want to nominate yourself or someone else for conservation, education or activism, know that there‚Äôs no one sure-fire area of focus that makes someone an Ocean Hero Finalist ‚Äď it‚Äôs about dedication and having an impact.
This is the first in a series of posts about this year‚Äôs Ocean Hero finalists.
Starting today, I‚Äôll be highlighting each of this year‚Äôs Ocean Hero finalists on the blog, since their stories deserve more space than what fits in the voting boxes at oceana.org/heroes.
First up we have Zach Rome, whose love for the oceans began at age 11, when his grandfather took him scuba diving in the Florida Keys. He was hooked, and spent subsequent summer vacations scuba diving around the world, climbing the scuba certification ladder.
He went on to study marine biology at the University of Miami, where he learned just how important and fragile the oceans are. He decided that after graduation, he would devote himself to passing on that knowledge.
After spending a few years working as a scuba instructor and middle school science teacher, he founded The Schooba Academy, a nonprofit organization based in Brooklyn, NY that teaches students from low-income communities about science through scuba diving.
As you know, we are now accepting nominations for our third annual Ocean Heroes Contest. Throughout the nomination period, which ends April 27th, I‚Äôll be featuring a few of the past winners and finalists to get you inspired. First up, the 2010 Junior Ocean Heroes: the Shark Finatics.
To jog your memory, the Shark Finatics are 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.
The Finatics‚Äô teacher Robin Culler recently wrote to us with an enthusiastic update about her students. They were recently featured in the Southeast Brewster Patch, and Culler says the ‚Äúthe kids were awesome and you couldn't get a word in edgewise! They were so thrilled to teach yet one more person about sharks.‚ÄĚ
We are inspired and impressed by the efforts of several young sea turtle conservationists, and I just had to share their stories with you:
When she was just 6 years old on a trip to Bali, Indonesia with her parents, Hannah Bywater visited a sea turtle sanctuary and was inspired to contribute to the cause. Now, at age 10, Hannah has already raised $7,000 for sea turtle preservation. Some of that money has funded the construction of an artificial reef ‚Äď ‚ÄúHannah‚Äôs Reef‚ÄĚ ‚Äď off the coast of Pemuturan, Bali, Indonesia. ‚ÄúThis artificial reef will provide food and shelter for the very turtles I‚Äôve been able to release from the sea turtle sanctuary,‚ÄĚ Hannah noted.
Hannah has recently expanded her conservation efforts to include the orangutans of Sumatra, Indonesia, and it‚Äôs unlikely that she‚Äôll stop there ‚Äď ‚ÄúMy goal is to help save all the animals that could become extinct,‚ÄĚ she asserted. There‚Äôs no doubt that any endangered species would be lucky to have Hannah on their team.
This is the first in a series of posts about the 2009 Ocean Heroes Finalists.
Since our second annual Ocean Heroes Contest recently opened for nominations, I thought it would be nice to look back and see what our 2009 Ocean Heroes finalists are up to -- and maybe it'll give you all some inspiration to nominate someone you know.
Just as I expected, they are all busy as ever doing their part to save the oceans. Today, we‚Äôll catch up with Jeff ‚ÄúMr. Fish‚ÄĚ Sandler:
Since the Ocean Heroes contest lots has been going on. I was asked to speak to the 5th grades at the local elementary school on what it takes to be an Ocean Hero. I told them that anyone can be an ocean hero -- what it takes is to identify a way that you are comfortable being helpful, and then taking action to try and make it happen.
I also pointed out that it doesn't have to be a grand undertaking, for if enough people take action in even a small way, that can still make a powerful difference.
Since the contest, my wife Deb as "Mrs. Fish" and I as "Mr. Fish" have continued to travel to elementary schools putting on educational shows that teach about the ocean and address environmental issues. We have performed these shows in 7 states this past year and have added ocean acidification as a new emphasis.