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 contestâ€™s 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, â€˜How are the Ocean Heroes finalists helping the oceans?â€™, then Iâ€™d tell you there are â€“ in my opinion â€“ 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 â€“from 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, â€œWhere is all that energy being focused?â€™. Amazingly, thereâ€™s no end to the different areas of focus where our Ocean Heroes commit their time and energy â€“ 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, â€™10) 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 thereâ€™s no one sure-fire area of focus that makes someone an Ocean Hero Finalist â€“ itâ€™s about dedication and having an impact.
Happy World Oceans Day, everyone!
Whether youâ€™re on the coast today or not, we hope you pause to recognize the beauty and bounty of the oceans. Starting today, we're asking all of you to take a pledge to protect the world's oceans -- but more on that later.
And now to the juicy stuff: this yearâ€™s Ocean Heroes!
More than 500 ocean activists were nominated, 12 were selected as finalists, and more than 12,000 of you voted. The results? This yearâ€™s adult ocean hero is Peter Wallerstein and the junior ocean hero is Sophi Bromenshenkel!
Peter Wallerstein is the program director at Marine Animal Rescue, a project of Friends of Animals, where he has spent the last 25 years rescuing marine mammal in Los Angeles County. He has personally rescued 3,000 marine mammals throughout his career, and also established a team of professional responders that humanely rescues hundreds of animals a year, including whales, dolphins, sea lions and seabirds.
Fittingly, Peter was out helping a stranded California sea lion when I called to give him the good news.
This is the fourth in a series of posts about this yearâ€™s Ocean Hero finalists.
For more than two decades, Peter Wallerstein has been rescuing marine animals on the coast of California.
In 1985 he founded the Whale Rescue Team, which is now part of Marine Animal Rescue (MAR), a project of Friends of Animals. Peter started a 24-hour hotline for citizens to report stranded or injured marine mammals, and he has personally rescued more than 4,000 marine mammals and birds in Southern California, from stranded dolphins to whales tangled in gillnets.
Thanks to Peterâ€™s persistence, Los Angeles County now has the only professional marine mammal rescue team in the U.S. that conducts hundreds of rescues each year, working 24/7 if needed. In April he conducted 86 marine mammal rescues, 120 for the year so far.
Now Peter is working to address the lack of adequate care facilities for marine mammals. After a decade of work, the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) has authorized MAR to design, construct and operate a second marine mammal care facility in Los Angeles County.