The Beacon

Blog Tags: Ocean Hero Finalists

Ocean Hero Finalists: Cindy and Ted Walter

cindy and ted walter

Image courtesy Cindy and Ted Walter.

This is the fourth in a series of posts about this year’s Ocean Heroes finalists.

Today’s finalists are helping the oceans through one of my favorite things -- food. Chef Ted Walter and his wife, Cindy Walter, co-own Passionfish restaurant in Pacific Grove, CA, and the name is fitting -- they share a passion for sustainable seafood.

The Walters, who have strict policies for their seafood purchases, use their restaurant as a forum for discussion, education, and exploration of topics in sustainability. 

At Passionfish, which was declared Monterey County's first "green" restaurant, Chef Ted Walter incorporates local, sustainable seafood and fresh, local, organic produce. Ted trained as a classic French chef in restaurants across the country before returning to his native Monterey County to open Passionfish in 1997.


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Ocean Hero Finalists: Laura Medrano

laura medrano

Laura Medrano with students from Dive Kulture. Image courtesy Laura Medrano.

This is the third in a series of posts about this year’s Ocean Hero finalists.

Laura Medrano is a mental health professional who helps inner-city adolescents in Boston through Dive Kulture, the first program in the nation to offer scuba certification in conjunction with environmental summer jobs.

The youths she helps are at risk of violence, abuse and neglect and many already have a criminal record, Laura told me. Through Dive Kulture, she uses scuba diving as a therapeutic mental health treatment. The students learn how to breathe more slowly through scuba, which helps them calm down and think more clearly in difficult situations.

Plus, for many of Laura's students, it’s their first time in the ocean -- she helps them connect to the marine environment in their backyard. Some of them, she says, didn't know the ocean was salty before joining Dive Kulture.


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Ocean Hero Finalists: Jay Holcomb

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Jay Holcomb (left) cleaning a bird.

This is the second in a series of posts about this year’s Ocean Hero finalists.

Today’s featured finalist is Jay Holcomb, the Executive Director of the International Bird Rescue Research Center (IBRRC). Coincidentally, Jay is down on the Gulf coast as we speak, preparing to lead his organization’s efforts to clean up oiled wildlife from the Deepwater Horizon spill.


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Ocean Hero Finalists: Suzanne Thurman

suzanne thurman merr

Suzanne Thurman with a Kemp's ridley sea turtle. © Kevin Fleming

This is the first in a series of posts highlighting the 2010 Ocean Hero finalists.

Starting today, I’ll be highlighting one finalist per day on the blog. First up is Suzanne Thurman, the founder and director of the Marine, Education, Research & Rehabilitation Institute, Inc. (MERR), Delaware’s only organization devoted to the response and rescue of marine mammals and sea turtles.

Suzanne has been participating in stranding response in Delaware since 1995, and before that, she worked for many years in environmental education and special education.

MERR, which is 10 years old this year, has provided stranding response to more than 1000 animals, beginning with one sea turtle that spent the night in Suzanne’s laundry room.


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Where Are They Now?: Chanel Gemini, Nika Kashyap & Sabina Van Tilburg

This is the fourth in a series of posts about the 2009 Ocean Heroes finalists.

Today we’re catching up with 2009 ocean hero finalists Sabina van Tilburg, Chanel Gemini and Nika Kashyapone, the three girl scouts who were instrumental in convincing the state of Hawaii to become the first state in the U.S. to officially recognize World Oceans Day. They obtained over 650 signatures on their petition and received the support of many non-profits and government agencies such as the Nature Conservancy and NOAA.

Here’s Sabina's update:

“As a Girl Scout troop, we are currently working on our Gold Award, the highest award for Girl Scouts and selling lots and lots of cookies! We have recently been focusing on recycling, gardening, buying local, and learning more about our community. Along with that we have been participating in a lot of beach clean ups, fishpond clean ups and restorations, working in the lo'i which are Hawaiian taro patches, and counting whales with NOAA, which you can learn more about at http://hawaiihumpbackwhale.noaa.gov/involved/ocwelcome.html "

Inspired? Nominate someone you know -- young or old -- to be this year's ocean hero.


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Where Are They Now?: Emily Goldstein

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This is the third in a series of posts about the 2009 Ocean Heroes finalists.

Today we’re catching up with 19-year-old Emily Goldstein, who was an ocean hero finalist because she convinced thousands of people and dozens of large companies to reduce their energy use, saving 16 million pounds of CO2.

She has also given dozens of talks to large groups about climate change and ocean pollution, and in 2008 she donated over 1,000 hours to make the ocean healthier. Emily is planning an ocean awareness day in Louisville, KY, when she’ll set sail on the Ohio River on a boat of recycled bottles.

Emily is a rock star; I’m not sure when she sleeps. Here she is:

“I'm a freshman at the University of Louisville. I'm getting a dual biology/ecology degree, and then I hope to get my PhD in wildlife conservation.  It's my dream to work in the field doing research on how to save marine wildlife.

I have been a busy little environmentalist this year. I have been trying to get someone to fund my ocean awareness day, but I guess the economy has made it hard for everyone to raise money.  I haven't given up on it, though, and I will make it happen eventually. 


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Where Are They Now?: Lynora Indiviglio

This is the second in a series of posts about the 2009 Ocean Heroes finalists.

Today we’re catching up with Lynora Indiviglio, who was a finalist last year because she founded the PalmBeach HammerHeads, South Florida's largest environmental dive club. For the past 8 years, the group has cleaned the areas reefs the last Sunday of every month. Lynora is also a member of the Palm Beach County Reef Research Team, which documents the health of Palm Beach County's Artificial Reef Program.

Sounds like she and the HammerHeads are busy as ever. She sent us this e-mail:

“The HammerHeads are still working hard at their cleanups and spreading the important news about the ocean and its importance to us all.

I met with Karen the 'Red Tide Coordinator' this past week as myself and some other HammerHeads have been collecting samples for her. We also had a representative from South Florida Water Management District come talk to us about the laboratory they have in the Everglades and what they're doing out there. She did a presentation at our March meeting and we had a full house.”

Inspired by Lynora's commitment to ocean conservation? Nominate an ocean hero you know, young or old.


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Where Are They Now?: Jeff 'Mr. Fish' Sandler

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’ll catch up with Jeff “Mr. Fish” 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.


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A Visit From Casey

casey sokolovic

Eleven-year-old sea turtle activist and 2009 Ocean Hero nominee Casey Sokolovic and her parents visited Oceana HQ in Washington, DC last Friday. Coincidentally, I was in North Carolina last week on the sea turtle nesting expedition you've been reading about, so I didn't get the chance to meet her. We traded places -- she was in the office, and I was looking for sea turtles nesting and visiting the Karen Beasley Sea Turtle Rescue and Rehabilitation Center where she volunteers. To raise money for the Center, she has held bake sales (with turtle-shaped cookies, of course), and has worked with NC coffee brewery Joe Van Gogh to create an organic sea turtle blend. Her coffee is now being carried in Whole Foods stores throughout the Carolinas, with 10% of the proceeds going to the center.


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The 2009 Ocean Hero

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After receiving nearly 500 nominations and thousands of votes for its final group of nominees, out of eight finalists, this year’s Ocean Hero is John Halas, a marine biologist and manager of the Upper Region of the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary.

Halas has been working to protect coral systems in Florida since 1981. After observing coral damage caused by careless anchoring, he took it upon himself to develop an environmentally friendly anchor and mooring buoy system that prevents damage to coral reefs and has worked to implement this anchorage system in 38 countries.

“My work is something I have felt strongly about and it is really a great honor to receive this acknowledgement,” Halas said.


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