We asked our Ocean Heroes finalists: If you were elected President, what would be the first thing on your agenda?
They gave us some pretty great answers, check them out below, and don’t forget to vote for your favorite finalist! Who knows, maybe one of our finalists will be running for President themselves someday.
Michele Hunter Stop the killing of all marine mammals throughout the entire world.
Hardy Jones Expose levels of pollution.
Kristofor Lofgren I would change our energy policy, because reducing carbon and oil and gas spills, creates a healthier and less acidic ocean.
Dave Rauschkolb End offshore oil drilling.
Rick Steiner An emergency effort in clean, sustainable energy, and energy conservation, to stop climate change and its devastating impacts on marine ecosystems.
Don Voss Appoint Sylvia Earle Secretary of World's Oceans and give her free reins to establish regulations as needed.
Sara Brenes Ban all shark finning in US, no shark products to be sold, imported or exported, create an ocean world conservation summit to try and make a plan to end shark finning, whaling and overfishing and try to create peaceful and safe ocean pact.
The Calvineers Reinforce the Endangered Species Act, especially the Marine Mammal Act so that NOAA would be better funded and more efficient at protecting marine mammals from human made dangers.
Sam Harris No killing sharks on this earth ever!!!!
James Hemphill Ban the chemical BPA from plastics to reduce the human input of toxins in the ocean.
Teakahla WhiteCloud I would ban all long-line fishing and trawler fishing and make sure all ocean laws are strictly enforced and make all reef systems National Parks.
Only a few more days of voting are left, tell us your favorite finalists today at oceana.org/heroes!
Photo Credits (clockwise from top left): Oceana/Juan Cuentos, Oceana/Maria Jose Cortex, Oceana/Carlos Suarez, Kip Evans Photography, Oceana/Carlos Suarez, Oceana/Carlos Suarez, Oceana/LX, Oceana/Juan Cuentos, Oceana/LX, Oceana/Juan Cuentos, Oceana/Enrique Talledo.
To be an Ocean Hero, you have to have a strong commitment to your work—so what keeps our finalists going when the going gets tough?
The voting is open for our 2012 Ocean Heroes Awards, but if you're having a hard time deciding who your favorite finalist is, here's a chance to get to know them better.
Each of our finalists has their own unique story about just what it is that motivates them to protect the world’s oceans. Here’s what they told us keeps them working hard to achieve their goals:
Michele Hunter Sometimes it's witnessing the small steps a critical patient will take because of the dutiful care and treatment we provide to our patients. Knowing that all those hours of care made a difference. Being able to stand on the beach with your team and release an animal that you helped save is motivation enough!
Hardy Jones Frankly, what motivates me is the undeniable need for reform of the way we view and deal with the oceans. There is real danger of a collapse of the ocean ecosystem. Other motivation comes from direct contact with the magnificence of the ocean realm. Finally, I am motivated by the knowledge that I can make a difference if I put out the energy and intention to accomplish important goals.
Kristofor Lofgren I want to live in a healthy and beautiful world. I also want to do all I can to share that wonderful world with others. I am motived each and every day to help make the world a better place for everyone I never meet, simply because it is the right thing to do. We all breathe the same air, drink the same water, and share the same earth. I choose each day to bring passion to simple, good work...and that is enough.
Dave Rauschkolb The unapologetic grip the dirty fuel and nuclear industries have on our world, and seeing that clean energy and renewables are beginning to break that grip.
Rick Steiner I'm motivated by knowing the desperate state of the oceans, seeing my favorite seas and coasts lost to human ignorance and greed, and facilitating the successes I've been involved with. There is simply no other option but to ramp up the science-based advocacy for ocean protection -- and that is a powerful motivator. It is urgent to act, not just talk about the problem. Knowing we can, and must, succeed.
Don Voss I am motivated by the thousands of kids I talk to each year who are interested and react to this project. I help at least 25 new divers a year get started and into this sport and debris collection. I am motivated by the progress in removal and changes in water quality we are finding just this year. I am motivated when others notice what we do and want to participate and/or learn more. I am motivated when we continue to release thousands of snagged and trapped aquatic animals. I am spiritually motivated when I visit our Turtle rescue hospital and visit the critters we have sent there. Turtles are awesome and send me home an activist.
Sara Brenes I am so passionate about my belief and my drive to make a difference. I feel like I breathe, eat, sleep, and dream about sharks and our oceans. I think it is just hard wired in to me to not give up and to fight and fight and fight and reach another person and another person and another one. Just don't stop!
The Calvineers The North Atlantic right whale is the most endangered large whale in the world. Their population has grown little in the last thirty years (from about 300 to about 450), way below the estimated 2-3,000 needed for recovery. Until the whales recover, the Calvineers will keep up their work of educating the public.
Sam Harris I do it for the sharks. I love them.
James Hemphill My love of the ocean keeps me going. This is a problem that will not go away. As long as there is a large human population, there will be conflicts with the environment that need solutions. I want to be a part of those solutions. I have a stubborn determination to see cleaner oceans. This is where I play, swim, surf, fish, and kayak. I want my children to experience the same beautiful environment that I have.
Teakahla WhiteCloud Knowing that I am saving hatchlings so that the ocean will continue to live so that I will have a future to live.
Don’t forget to visit oceana.org/heroes and vote for your favorite adult and junior finalists. There’s less than a week until the voting period is over!
Photo Credits (clockwise from top left): Courtesy Hardy Jones, Oceana/Dustin Cranor, zeroXTE.com, Oceana/Carlos Minguell, Courtesy James Hemphill, Oceana/Eduardo Sorenson, Courtesy Sara Brenes, NOAA, Courtesy Michele Hunter, Courtesy Kristofor Lofgren, Flickr/Nemo’s Great Uncle (middle).
Heading out of town for the fourth of July? As with any trip, you need a great destination and some tunes for the ride.
Our Ocean Heroes finalists have spent time on the beach and on the water, learning to appreciate and protect all the ocean has to offer. Each shoreline has its own unique qualities that make it special. We asked our finalists for their favorite ocean destination -- maybe some of them are heading there this week for the holiday!
We also asked them to pick their favorite ocean-related songs and bands, and we put together a Spotify playlist
Check out their answers below!
Place: My home beach, Rosemary Beach.
Song: The B-52's / Rock Lobster
Place: Little Cayman Island, Qamea, Fiji or Yap
Song: Adele / Rolling in the Deep
Place: St. Augustine, FL, where I live
Song: The Beach Boys / Good Vibrations
Place: I have lived on the ocean most of my life, and have traveled the world's oceans and coasts. I'd love to return to the NW Hawaiian Islands, the Oregon Coast, the South Pacific, Papua New Guinea, Mauritania, the coast of British Columbia, the Katmai coast in Alaska, St. Lawrence Island, Nunivak Island, Bering Strait, the Aleutians, the Arctic coast, Great Barrier Reef, and Prince William Sound (before the Exxon Valdez oil spill).
Song: Pat Benatar / Hit Me With Your Best Shot
Place: The Caribbean
Song: Jack Johnson / Good People
Place: That's a tough question, I enjoy many areas and terrain the beaches and ocean provide from Laguna Beach, Maine to the Oregon coast.
Song: Van Morrison / Into the Mystic
Place: Cumberland Island, Georgia
Song: George Fenton / Spinning Dolphins
Place: Florida Keys or Hawai'i
Song: Katy Perry / Part of Me
The Calvineers: Editor’s Note: This message comes from Bill McWeeny, the Principal Investigator and mentor for the Calvineers.
Place: I live directly on a small estuary in Maine. I cannot think of a better place to be. I imagine many of the Calvineers will grow up wanting to live near the sea since exploring and sailing and swimming are so much a part of their lives.
Song: Calvin Harris/ Feel So Close
Place: The Bahamas
Song: Bob Marley & The Wailers / Three Little Birds
Place: Cape town, South Africa
Song: Red Hot Chili Peppers / Can't Stop
You can check out all of these songs on our Spotify playlist.
Don’t forget to vote for your favorite finalists, you have until July 11th to cast your vote!
Photo Credits (clockwise from top left): Cape Town, South Africa: Wikimedia Commons, Bahamas: Ricymar Fine Art Photography (via Flickr), Fiji: Miguel Sancheese (via Flickr), Bering Strait: NOAA, Caribbean: Franco Caruzzo (via Flickr), St. Augustine, FL: NOAA, Cumberland Island: NOAA, Laguna Beach: NOAA, Hawaii: Wikimedia Commons/Frank Schulenburg, Rosemary Beach: Chad Raggio (via Flickr), Maine Estuary: Pleasant River Wildlife Foundation (middle)
Exploring the oceans from one of these animals points of view would be an exciting (and eye opening) experience.
So what marine animal would you be if you had the chance to be any creature in the ocean? We posed this question to our Ocean Heroes finalists, and here’s what they had to say. See if you can match their responses to the pictures above (answers at the bottom of this post)!
Michele Hunter – Harbor seal
Hardy Jones – Sperm whale
Kristofor Lofgren – Mako shark
Dave Rauschkolb – Porpoise
Richard Steiner – Polar bear (I like the odds and the challenge they face)
Donald Voss – Humpback whale
Sara Brenes – Tiger Shark
Calvineers – Blue whale
Sam Harris – Tiger Shark
James Hemphill – Hawksbill Sea Turtle (I have always been amazed at all the colors on its shell and how gracefully and peacefully it swims)
Teakahla WhiteCloud – Dolphin
Make sure to vote for your favorite Ocean Heroes, open from now until July 11th. Stay tuned to learn more about our finalists!
Photo Credits (clockwise from top left): Sperm Whale: Oceana/Juan Cuentos, Tiger Shark: Albert Kok, Harbor Seal: NOAA, Hawksbill Turtle: NOAA/Caroline Rogers, Porpoise: NOAA, Tiger Shark: Austin Gallagher, Humpback Whale: NOAA, Dolphin: Oceana/Eduardo Sorenson, Mako Shark: NOAA, Polar bear: NOAA, Blue Whale: NOAA (middle)
After a long deliberation process, we’re ready to announce the finalists for our 2012 Ocean Heroes Award. We received over 400 fantastic nominees from all over the country (and a few international ones), but we think these five juniors and six adults are the best of the best.
You’ll have a chance to get to know our finalists better over the next two weeks, and you can cast your vote for your favorite finalists. Voting is open from today until Wednesday, July 11.
Meet the finalists:
Sara Brenes, 16
Coconut Creek, FL
Sara, 16, helps raise awareness for shark protection by promoting Ban the Fin programs within her community, where she educates and advocates for a ban on products made from sharks. She also raises money for shark conservation by selling baked goods and candy and spends time going door-to-door in her community to collect signatures for the protection of sharks.
A group of 7th and 8th grade students from the Adams School in Maine, the Calvineers study the plight of the endangered North Atlantic right whale and educate the public. Guided by science mentors from the Right Whale Consortium, each student studies a specific right whale issue and contributes to a final group presentation. They have presented from Quebec to Tampa and reached thousands with their message.
Sam Harris, 7
Los Angeles, CA
At only seven years old, Sam is a shark savior who raises awareness about sharks by giving presentations to students at schools all over Los Angeles. He’s a Junior Ambassador for Shark Savers, Shark Angels, and Sea Shepherd.
James Hemphill, 15
Virginia Beach, VA
James, 15, is president of the student-led conservation group Project Green Teens. He has organized 34 tidal creek and beach cleanups, helping to remove 2,300 pounds of scrap metal from the waterways. He’s currently collecting signatures in support of a plastic bag ban in Virginia Beach.
Teakahla WhiteCloud, 9
Fort Lauderdale, FL
Teakahla, nine, is a founding director of Sea Turtle Oversight Protection (S.T.O.P.) and sea turtle hotline phone secretary. She helps protect hatchlings on their way to the ocean and raises money for sea turtle protection.
Donald Voss, 64
Fort Pierce, FL
An avid scuba diver with over 10,000 logged dives, Donald founded a marine debris company (MCII) to remove discarded materials in Florida waterways. In 11 years he has led more than 400 volunteer scuba divers who have removed 300,000 pounds of plastic, nets, fishing line, and trash. His work has contributed to the release of tens of thousands of aquatic animals.
Richard Steiner, 59
Rick, a professor at the University of Alaska for 30 years (he retired in 2010), has advocated for science-based marine conservation in in offshore oil, marine debris, sustainable fisheries, marine mammals, and more. He was a leader in conservation efforts after the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill and has often been the first international scientist on-site for oil disasters in Pakistan, Lebanon, China, and the Niger Delta. He has helped found several marine conservation organizations including PWS Science.
Hardy Jones, 68
St. Augustine, FL
Hardy, an ocean filmmaker and activist, helped first document the slaughter or dolphins at Iki Island, Japan (made famous in the movie, “The Cove”). He has produced numerous ocean conservation films, some appearing on the PBS series Nature. His organization, Blue Voice, provides research and advocacy for marine mammal conservation.
Michele Hunter, 55
Laguna Nigel, CA
Michele has dedicated 20 years to rescuing and rehabilitating marine mammals in Orange County, CA. She has helped return hundreds of marine mammals back to the ocean. As the director of Animal Care/Operations at Pacific Marine Mammal Center she has helped educated the organization’s nearly 20,000 visitors each year.
Kristofor Lofgren, 29
Kristofor created Bamboo Sushi, advertised as the world’s first sustainable sushi restaurant, to provide consumers with the freshest and best fish possible, while simultaneously helping to restore and replenish the oceans. A portion of the restaurant’s proceeds are donated to The Nature Conservancy and Surfrider Foundation.
Dave Rauschkolb, 50
Rosemary Beach, FL
Dave founded Hands Across the Sand to unite organizations and individuals against the expansion of oil drilling in our oceans. In early 2010, he united 10,000 Floridians to join hands on the beaches, creating human lines in the sand to symbolize their opposition to drilling. After the Gulf Oil Spill, the movement expanded to 1000 events in all 50 states and 43 countries around the world.