Washington – Today Oceana announces that Peter Wallerstein and Sophi Bromenshenkel are the winners of its 3rd annual Ocean Heroes Award. The adult and junior heroes will be officially announced on June 8th in conjunction with World Oceans Day and the start of Oceana’s “Be an Ocean Hero” campaign. Peter Wallerstein, program director at Marine Animal Rescue in El Segundo, CA was voted the adult hero for his commitment to rescuing injured marine mammals, while 8-year-old Sophi Bromenshenkel of Richfield, MN was voted the junior hero after raising over $3,500 for shark conservation.
“This year’s Ocean Heroes are truly impressive, largely because of their tangible achievements towards ocean conservation. Peter has 3,000 marine mammal rescues under his belt and Sophi, even though she is only eight years old, has raised thousands of dollars for shark conservation,” said Oceana Chief Executive Officer Andrew Sharpless. “Individual commitments like these all add up and make a real difference for the world’s oceans.”
Currently the program director at Marine Animal Rescue, a project of Friends of Animals, Wallerstein has spent the last 25 years redefining the protocol for marine mammal rescues in Los Angeles County. He raised the bar by establishing a team of professional responders that humanely rescues hundreds of animals a year. He has personally rescued 3,000 marine mammals throughout his career. MAR recently received approval to open a second marine mammal care site in Playa del Ray, CA.
“Being voted the 2011 Oceana Ocean Hero is extremely humbling. Raising the standard of marine mammal care in LA County has been my life’s work for over 25 years and to be recognized on such a large scale is enormously rewarding,” said 2011 Ocean Hero Peter Wallerstein. “I hope that by winning this award people across the country will see the impact that Marine Animal Rescue is having in Los Angeles and will be inspired to improve the quality of similar rescues in their own coastal communities,” he added.
By selling lemonade and hot chocolate, shark cookies and wristbands, and through email campaigns and local fliers, Junior Ocean Hero Sophi Bromenshenkel has raised more than $3,500 for sharks. She has partnered with the University of Miami’s R.J. Dunlap Marine Conservation Program, where her funds pay for satellite tags on sharks.
“I’m so excited about being the junior ocean hero,” said 8-year-old Sophi Bromenshenkel. “I have worked really hard to save sharks and now I’m going to work even harder so that I can save more.”
Oceana encourages everyone to follow the lead of this year’s heroes by getting involved in ocean conservation this summer. Take the pledge to “Be an Ocean Hero” at www.oceana.org/heroes. Choose between three pledges (recycle, participate in a beach clean-up, or eat sustainable seafood) and Oceana will share some tips on how to make it happen.
Oceana’s 2011 Ocean Heroes contest was launched in March with a national call for nominations. A panel of experts at Oceana sorted through 500 nominations, narrowing the field to six adult finalists and six junior finalists. After inviting the public to vote online, over 12,000 people went to www.oceana.org/heroes to pick their favorite heroes.
Winners of the contest each receive a $500 gift card to Nautica.com; a pair of Revo sunglasses that feature a 100% recycled frame material and a new high contrast polarized water lens that is tailored to the specific light-absorbance profile of ocean water; and a copy of For Cod & Country, the new guide to sustainable seafood from acclaimed Washington D.C. chef and National Geographic Fellow Barton Seaver. All additional finalists will receive the same Revo Sunglasses, a copy of For Cod & Country, and a $100 gift card to Nautica.com
For more information about Peter and Sophi please see the following blog posts:
To schedule an interview with Peter or Sophi, please contact Michael Gardner at 202-467-1972 or at [email protected]