Oceana Opens Voting for 4th Annual Ocean Heroes Award Contest | Oceana

Oceana Opens Voting for 4th Annual Ocean Heroes Award Contest

Press Release Date: June 27, 2012

Location: Washington, DC


Anna Baxter | email: abaxter@oceana.org
Anna Baxter

Washington, DC- Today Oceana announces the beginning of public voting for its 4th annual Ocean Heroes Contest. After carefully reviewing over 400 nominations for America’s most exceptional contributors to ocean conservation, Oceana selected a unique group of six adult finalists and five junior finalists who hail from all corners of the country.

Guided by the biographies and accomplishments of each finalist, the public is invited to vote until July 11, 2012. Votes should be submitted at www.oceana.org/heroes 

“With finalists from Fort Lauderdale to Alaska, Los Angeles to the rocky coast of Maine, Oceana has chosen a diverse group of everyday ocean heroes from around the country who deserve to be recognized for their commitments to ocean conservation,” said Oceana CEO Andrew Sharpless. “These finalists use their unique talents to protect the oceans with projects like serving sustainable seafood, producing films about marine animals, diving for the removal of marine debris and more – all while reminding us that there are endless ways to protect the oceans in our everyday lives. Now it’s up to America to pick the winners.”

The adult finalists include:

  • Donald Voss, Fort Pierce, FL An avid scuba diver with over 10,000 logged dives who founded a marine debris company (MCII) to remove discarded debris in Florida waterways. In 11 years, he has led 400+ volunteer scuba divers to remove 300,000 lbs of plastic, nets, fishing line, trash, etc. which has aided in the release of 10’s of thousands of aquatic animals.
  • Kristofor Lofgren, Portland, OR/San Francisco, CA– Created Bamboo Sushi, advertised as the world’s first sustainable seafood sushi restaurant. Provides customers with the freshest and best fish possible, while simultaneously helping to restore and replenish the oceans. Using the guidelines established by Monterey Bay Aquarium and Blue Ocean Institute, they never serve seafood that is on their “avoid” lists. A portion of proceeds are donated to causes like The Nature Conservancy and Surfrider Foundation.
  • Hardy Jones, St. Augustine, FL – Ocean filmmaker and activist who helped first document the slaughter of 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 bluevoice.org provides research and advocacy for marine mammal conservation. He led an investigation into the mass mortalities of over 900 dolphins on the shores of Peru in March 2012
  • Richard Steiner, Anchorage, AK – A marine conservation professor at University of Alaska for 30 years (until 2010) advocating science-based marine conservation in offshore oil, marine debris, sustainable fisheries, marine mammals and more. He provided leadership during the 1989 Exxon Valdez Oil Spill and has often been the first international scientist on-site for oil disasters in places like Pakistan, Lebanon, China, and the Niger Delta. He has helped found several marine conservation organizations including PWS Science Center.
  • Michele Hunter, Laguna Niguel, CA – Michele has dedicated 20 years to rescuing and rehabilitating marine mammals in Orange County, CA, and 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 educate the organization’s nearly 20,000 visitors each year
  • Dave Rauschkolb, Rosemary Beach, FL – Founded Hands Across The Sand to unite organizations and individuals against the expansion of oil drilling in our oceans. In 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 50 states and 43 countries around the world.

The junior finalists include:

  • Sam Harris (7), Los Angeles, CA – A shark savior who raises awareness for 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.
  • The Calvineers, Castine, ME – Group of 7th and 8th grade students who 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. The Calvineers have presented from Quebec to Tampa and reached thousands with their message.  
  • Teakahla WhiteCloud (9), Ft. Lauderdale FL – Founding director of Sea Turtle Oversight Protection (S.T.O.P) and sea turtle hotline phone secretary. Helps protect hatchling on their way to the ocean and raises money for sea turtle protection. 
  • James Hemphill (15), Virginia Beach, VA – President of Project Green Teens (student led conservation group). He has organized 34 tidal creek and beach clean-ups, helping to remove 2,300 lbs of scrap metal from the waterways. He is also collecting signatures in support of a plastic bag ban in Virginia Beach.
  • Sara Brenes (16), Coconut Creek, FL – Helps raise awareness for the protection of sharks at public events, dive shops, church groups, schools, etc. specifically, promoting Ban the Fin programs. She raises money for shark conservation by selling baked goods, candy and more. She goes door to door in her community to collect signatures for the protection of sharks.

Based on the voting results, a winner in each division will be announced on July 18, 2012.

Oceana’s Ocean Heroes Contest is made possibly by its partners Nautica and Revo Sunglasses. All adult and junior finalists will receive prize packages that include a $100 gift card to Nautica.com; a pair of Revo sunglasses that feature a 100% recycled frame material and a high contrast polarized water lens that is tailored to the specific light-absorbance profile of ocean water. Nautica is providing a $500 gift card to the winners in each category.

To learn more about each finalist and vote for a hero, visit www.oceana.org/heroes 


Oceana is the largest international advocacy group working solely to protect the world’s oceans. Oceana wins policy victories for the oceans using science-based campaigns. Since 2001, we have protected over 1.2 million square miles of ocean and innumerable sea turtles, sharks, dolphins and other sea creatures. More than 550,000 supporters have already joined Oceana. Global in scope, Oceana has offices in North, South and Central America and Europe. To learn more, please visit www.oceana.org.