Excellence in National Ocean Stewardship President Macky Sall of Senegal
Excellence in Science Dr. Boris Worm and Dr. Heike Lotze
Excellence in Policy Congressman Ed Markey
Excellence in Media Nancy Baron and COMPASS
Christopher Benchley Youth Award Sean Russell
Hero of the Seas Karen Garrison and Kaitilin Gaffney
Excellence in National Stewardship of the Ocean President Anote Tong of Kiribati
Excellence in Science Dr. Nancy Rabalais
Excellence in Policy Senator Sheldon Whitehouse
Excellence in Solution Dr. Geraldine Knatz
Excellence in Media Brian Skerry
Excellence in Exploration Ocean in Google Earth
Christopher Benchley Youth Award Ta’Kaiya Blaney
Hero of the Seas Peter Douglas
Excellence in Science Dr. Steve Palumbi
Excellence in Policy Admiral Thad Allen
Excellence in Solutions Dr. Greg Stone
Excellence in Media Juliet Eilperin
Youth Activism Rudy Sanchez
Hero of the Seas Kathy Fletcher
Excellence in National Stewardship of the Ocean President Laura Chinchilla of Costa Rica
Excellence in Science Jesse Ausubel
Excellence in Policy Dr. Jane Lubchenco
Excellence in Media Louie Psihoyos
Excellence in Exploration Don Walsh
Foundation Spirit Award Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation
Hero of the Seas Cynthia Sarthou
Youth Activism Kyle Thiermann
Benchley Award Recipient Bios
Admiral Thad Allen
Excellence in Policy, 2011
For his work on U.S. Arctic and Ocean Policy and Disaster Response Leadership
Admiral Thad W. Allen assumed the duties of the 23rd Commandant of the U.S. Coast Guard on May 25th, 2006 retiring from the service on June 30, 2010 while continuing to serve as the National Incident commander of the BP oil spill disaster until after the wellhead was permanently sealed. Admiral Allen is a native of Tucson, Arizona and graduated from the U.S. Coast Guard Academy in 1971.
He served as the Coast Guard Chief of Staff and Commanding Officer, Coast Guard Headquarters, in Washington, D.C., from May 2002 to April 2006. In September 2005, Admiral Allen was designated the Principal Federal Official for Hurricane Katrina response and later for Hurricane Rita, for which he was universally praised. Prior to his assignment as Chief of Staff, he served as Commander, Coast Guard Atlantic Area and led the Coast Guard’s Atlantic Area forces in response to the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.
As Commandant of the Coast Guard during the administration of George W. Bush he was instrumental in bringing attention and advocating for a strong U.S. Arctic policy in response to loss of sea ice linked to climate change. When President Obama established a taskforce on U.S. Ocean Policy in June 2009 Admiral Allen also played a vital role that led to a Presidential Executive Order promoting a new approach to America’s public seas in July 2010.
Admiral Allen holds a Master of Public Administration degree from the George Washington University and received the Alumni Achievement Award in 2006. He also holds a Master of Science degree from the Sloan School of Management at MIT. In 2003, Admiral Allen was elected a National Academy of Public Administration Fellow. He is now a Senior Fellow at the RAND Corporation. Top
Excellence in Science, 2010
Jesse H. Ausubel is Director of the Program for the Human Environment at The Rockefeller University and Vice President for Programs of the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. Mr. Ausubel helped initiate the Census of Marine Life, an international observation program to assess and explain the diversity, distribution, and abundance of life in the oceans. Beginning in 2002, he helped found the Barcode of Life initiative, which aims to provide short DNA sequences that identify all animal and plant species. He is the author or editor of more than 150 papers, reports, and books. His articles have appeared in Nature, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (USA) and Oceanography. Top
Excellence in Media, 2013
A zoologist and science writer, Nancy is the Ocean Science Outreach Director for COMPASS. She is also the lead communications trainer for the Aldo Leopold Leadership Program. In these capacities, she works with environmental scientists helping them translate their work effectively to journalists, the public and policy makers. Nancy holds communications training workshops around the world for scientists, graduate students and post- doctoral students as well as government and NGO scientists. As Ocean Science Outreach Director for COMPASS, Nancy has played a pivotal role in establishing strong links between thousands of scientists and journalists so that changes and discoveries in our seas become news and information we can all use.Top
Hero of the Seas, 2004
Dery Bennett joined the Littoral Society staff in 1968 as conservation director and was its executive director until 2002. A graduate of Amherst and a Navy underwater demolition driver, he worked as a newspaper reporter, writer for Harvard University and assistant professor of English before becoming a coastal activist and leader. He chaired and sat on the boards of numerous marine groups and is the author and editor of half a dozen books on fishing and the shore. Mr. Bennett passed away in 2009 leaving a legacy of effective and lasting marine conservation work. Top
Christopher Benchley Youth Award, 2012
Ta’Kaiya is a ten-year-old first-nations Canadian activist and singer fighting a proposed tar sands oil pipeline and tanker terminal planned for British Columbia’s coastal waters. When she learned oil kills sea otters, her favorite animals, she became an activist with Greenpeace and others. Her beautifully sung protest song, “Shallow Waters” is a Youtube sensation. Her new song, introduced at an Occupy Vancouver rally, is “Earth Revolution“.
Hero of the Seas, 2009
Richard Charter is a Senior Policy Advisor for Marine Programs for Defenders of Wildlife, working on offshore drilling issues with local and state elected officials and the conservation community for over thirty years, and is also engaged in the creation of marine protected areas to restore coastal ecosystems. He has been working for nearly three decades with local elected officials, Members of Congress, state legislators, and NGO conservation organizations to ensure continued protection for sensitive coastlines threatened by offshore oil and gas drilling. Richard was responsible for developing the twenty-seven year bipartisan congressional moratorium on offshore oil and gas leasing which, until 2009, had prevented new drilling along the U.S. West Coast, the East Coast, and in Southwest Florida. Richard also coordinated the local government support, which led to the creation of the Gulf of the Farallones, Cordell Bank, Channel Islands, and Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuaries. Richard also currently Chairs the Gulf of the Farallones National Marine Sanctuary Advisory Council. Top
President Laura Chinchilla
Excellence in National Stewardship of the Ocean, 2011
For expanded protection of the waters around Cocos Island
Laura Chinchilla Miranda was elected president of Costa Rica in 2010 and sworn in as President on May 8, 2010. She is the nation’s first female president. A graduate of the University of Costa Rica, she received a Masters in public policy from Georgetown University. She went on to work as a consultant on judicial reform and public security traveling in Latin America and Africa. Her public career has included service as a deputy in Costa Rica’s national assembly. She was also first Vice President of the Republic and Minister of Justice in the administration of Óscar Arias Sánchez. A social conservative and free trade advocate Chinchilla is also a strong environmentalist, continuing the previous government’s work to combat climate change and promote sustainable ecotourism.
On March 3, 2011 President Chinchilla signed an executive decree establishing a new 2,900 square miles marine reserve around the world-famous Cocos Island National Park. This new ‘Hope Spot’ in the sea is the second largest protected marine area in the eastern Pacific after the Galapagos Islands. It reflects Costa Rica’s ongoing commitment to being a good steward of its two coastlines and oceans. Top
Excellence in Media, 2013
In 1999 leading ocean scientists and communications professionals established COMPASS to train marine scientists in communications skills needed to talk to the media, the public and policymakers about their findings. COMPASS is a team of science-based communication professionals. They all share a foundation of scientific training, but also have diverse backgrounds in ocean science, policymaking, science journalism, and natural resource management. This enables them to work at the intersection of science, policy, and communications. With PhD scientists, former Capitol Hill staffers and award-winning science journalists on their team, they have the knowledge and experience to help scientists share their information with society. While COMPASS advocates for the communication of science, they do not advocate for specific policies or practices.
Hero of the Seas, 2012
Peter helped create the California Coastal Commission and organized efforts to get it passed as a popular initiative in 1972. He wrote the language of the Coastal Act passed into law in 1976 and went on to work for the Commission to assure public access and deny reckless development along California’s 1,100 miles of stunning coastline. Executive Director from 1985 to 2011 when he resigned following a long and ongoing battle with cancer, Peter has been compared to John Muir and Ansel Adams as a hero of the state’s environment. “The coast is never saved,” he points out to today’s citizen activists. “The coast is always being saved.” Peter was recently featured in an original short film by the Oprah Winfrey Network.
Excellence in Media, 2011
For her ocean reporting in the Washington Post
A born-and-bred Washingtonian, Juliet Eilperin graduated in 1992 magna cum laude from Princeton University, where she received a bachelor’s in Politics with a certificate in Latin American Studies. In the fall of 1992 she went to Seoul, South Korea on a Luce Scholarship, which allowed her to cover politics and economics for an English-language magazine. Returning to Washington, Ms. Eilperin wrote for Louisiana and Florida papers at States News Service and then joined Roll Call newspaper in 1994. In March 1998 she joined The Washington Post as its House of Representatives reporter, where she covered the impeachment of Bill Clinton, lobbying, legislation, and four national congressional campaigns.
Since April of 2004 she has covered the environment for the national desk, reporting on science, policy and politics in areas including climate change, air quality and increasingly, oceans. In pursuit of these stories she has trekked the Arctic tundra and gone scuba diving with sharks in the Bahamas.
Her continuous and informed coverage of ocean issues reflects well on the The Washington Post at a time when other newspapers have cut back on their environmental and marine science coverage as part of their industry’s contractions. Where five years ago there were at least four national newspaper reporters regularly covering ocean issues (with two Pulitzer Prizes awarded for their coverage) today Juliet stands alone working the blue beat.
During her first year at the Post, Ms. Eilperin was the most prolific writer on the news staff, writing more than 200 stories. In the spring of 2005 she served as the McGraw Professor of Journalism at Princeton University, teaching political reporting to a group of undergraduate and graduate students. Her first book, Fight Club Politics, came out in 2006. Her new book, Demon Fish: Travels Through the Hidden World of Sharks, will be out with Pantheon Press in June 2011. Top
Representative Sam Farr
Excellence in Policy, 2009
Congressman Sam Farr (D-CA), a fifth-generation Californian, represents the state’s beautiful Central Coast. Throughout his 18-year tenure, Mr. Farr has been a leading advocate for California agriculture, an outspoken activist for affordable housing and a champion of the oceans. In Congress since 1993, Farr serves on the powerful House Appropriations Committee, which oversees the distribution of the federal budget. Farr is the Ranking Member of the Appropriations Subcommittee on Agriculture, Rural Development and Food and Drug Administration, as well as sits on the Subcommittee on Military Construction and Veterans Affairs. Mr. Farr co-chairs the Congressional Organic Caucus, Congressional Travel & Tourism Caucus, Defense Communities Caucus, House Oceans Caucus, and Unexploded Ordnance Caucus. Top
Hero of the Seas, 2011
For her career leading People for Puget Sound
Kathy Fletcher is founder and former executive director of People For Puget Sound, a citizens’ organization formed in 1991 to protect and restore Puget Sound and the Northwest Straits. She also sits on the Northwest Straits Commission and the Puget Sound Partnership’s Ecosystem Coordination Board.
Kathy previously chaired the Puget Sound Water Quality Authority, a state agency formed in 1985 to develop a comprehensive plan to clean up and protect the Sound and Straits. During the Carter Administration, she served on the White House Domestic Policy Staff, where she handled environmental and natural resource issues. She has taught environmental policy and nonprofit management at the University of Washington. She has also worked for the Environmental Defense Fund and several other environmental organizations. Her career includes five years heading environmental, energy conservation and other programs at Seattle City Light, the city’s publically owned utility company.
Kathy has served on many nonprofit organization boards, including the national Sierra Club and the National Environmental Trust, and is currently a member of the boards of Restore America’s Estuaries and the Washington Foundation for the Environment. Kathy majored in biology at Harvard University and is a native of Seattle.Top
Hero of the Seas, 2013
Kaitilin Gaffney’s practice focuses on developing and managing projects for oceans, coasts, and fisheries programs. Before joining Resources Law Group, she was the Pacific Program Director for Ocean Conservancy where she managed activities throughout the West Coast including ocean governance, fisheries, marine protected areas, and water quality. Ms. Gaffney served as a Fulbright Fellow in New Zealand where she studied fisheries policy. She is a graduate of Boalt Hall School of Law, and earned her Master’s degree in Commerce and Administration from Victoria University, Wellington, New Zealand.
Hero of the Seas, 2013
Karen Garrison is a senior policy analyst with NRDC’s oceans program and co-director of its ocean program. Karen is a leader in West Coast efforts to improve fishery management and strengthen protection for ocean ecosystems through state legislation, administrative advocacy and citizen action. She has helped win measures to promote rockfish recovery, restrict bottom trawling in sensitive habitats in California marine waters and create underwater parks under the Marine Life Protection Act that she played a critical role in promoting. Karen is a founding member of Save Our wild Salmon, a Northwest coalition of fishing, conservation and business groups, and a member of the Federal Advisory Committee on Marine Protected Areas. She loves to dive, snorkel, kayak, body surf, boat and swim. She has an M.S. degree from the Energy and Resources Group at U.C. Berkeley and has worked at NRDC since 1988.
Ocean in Google Earth
Excellence in Exploration, 2012
Inspired by a challenge from ocean explorer Sylvia Earle, Ocean in Google Earth has become a portal for anyone with a computer to virtually explore the wonders of our blue ocean planet in ways that in the past could only be experienced by a handful of adventurers like Don Walsh, a past Benchley winner and one of only two humans to have gone to the deepest part of the sea back in 1960. Don will be presenting Google this award.
Senator Ernest “Fritz” Hollings
Awards for Policy, 2004
Senator Hollings served as a Democratic Senator for the State of South Carolina from 1966 until 2005. He was born in Charleston, attended undergraduate studies at The Citadel and earned his law degree from the University of South Carolina. Prior to serving in the U.S. Senate, Mr. Hollings worked to improve education and employment opportunities as South Carolina’s 106th Governor. Now retired, Mr. Hollings writes frequently for The Huffington Post. He also started the Hollings Scholarship in 2005, which allows over 100 undergraduates throughout the nation to intern with NOAA as well as provides monetary scholarship during the school year. Top
Excellence in Science, 2009
Jeremy Jackson is Director of CMBC, the William E. and Mary B. Ritter Professor of Oceanography at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography in La Jolla, California, and a Senior Scientist at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute in the Republic of Panama. He was Professor of Ecology at the Johns Hopkins University from 1971 to 1985. Dr. Jackson is the author of more than 100 scientific publications and five books. His current research includes the long-term impacts of human activities on the oceans and the ecological and evolutionary consequences of the gradual formation of the Isthmus of Panama. He co-founded the Panama Paleontology Project in 1986, an international group of some 30 scientists, to help support his isthmian research. He has also worked extensively on the ecology of coral reef communities and the tempo and mode of speciation in the sea. Dr. Jackson is a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and received the Secretary’s Gold Medal for Exceptional Service of the Smithsonian Institution in 1997 and the UCSD Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Science and Engineering in 2002. His work on overfishing was chosen by Discover magazine as the outstanding environmental achievement of 2001. He has served on committees and boards of the World Wildlife Fund US, the National Research Council, the National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis, and the Science Commission of the Smithsonian Institution. Top
Dr. Geraldine Knatz
Excellence in Solutions, 2012
Knatz is the Executive Director of the Port of Los Angeles, “America’s Port.” She is both the first woman and first marine biologist to run a major port, Knatz has been leading the clean-up of the largest port complex in the Western Hemisphere where a billion dollars of goods a day are moved. Since taking charge in 2006 she’s helped replace 5,000 diesel-spewing trucks with cleaner vehicles and gotten dockside electric outlets for ships to plug in to (they call it ‘cold ironing’) reducing the burning of smoky ship fuel for in-port power. Air quality has improved over 75 percent while water quality is such that sea lions and sharks now visit the harbor whose waters were once black and full of garbage. “I wasn’t hired to maintain the status quo,” she admits happily. She’s now also leading the global greening ports movement as president of the International Association of Harbors and Ports.
Dr. Nancy Knowlton
Excellence in Science, 2009
Dr. Nancy Knowlton holds the Sant Chair in Marine Science at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History. Her research focuses on the ecology, evolution and conservation of coral reef organisms, and has taken her to the Caribbean, Brazil, the eastern Atlantic, and the Indo-west and central Pacific. Her analyses have led to the now widespread recognition that estimates of marine diversity are probably too low by a factor of ten. Dr. Knowlton received her undergraduate degree at Harvard University and her PhD at the University of California at Berkeley, and was a professor at Yale University prior to moving to the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute in Panama. Later, she joined the Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California at San Diego, where she was the founding Director of the Center for Marine Biodiversity and Conservation and the leader of its interdisciplinary research and education (IGERT) program. Dr. Knowlton currently serves on the National Geographic Society’s Committee on Research and Exploration and Conservation Trust Committee, chairs the World Bank’s Targeted Research Program for Coral Reefs, is principal investigator of the Census of Marine Life’s Coral Reef Initiative, and is an Associate Editor for the Annual Review of Marine Science. She is an elected fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and an Aldo Leopold Fellow. Top
Dr. Heike Lotze
Excellence in Science, 2013
Heike Lotze is an Associate Professor and Canada Research Chair in Marine Renewable Resources at Dalhousie University in Canada. Her research and teaching in marine ecology is shaped by her strong interest in human impacts on marine species and ecosystems and their consequences for the ocean and society. Along with her husband Dr. Boris Worm she has studied how human impacts on the sea have expanded from inshore regions to the pelagic ocean and deep-sea habitats, causing large-scale patterns of change in ocean biological diversity and community structure. She did her undergraduate and graduate work at the University of Kiel, Germany where she received her PhD in 1998. She has done Post-doctoral work and research in both Germany and Canada. She now runs her own lab at Dalhousie.
Dr. Jane Lubchenco
Excellence in Policy, 2010
Dr. Jane Lubchenco has been the Under Secretary of Commerce for Oceans and Atmosphere and Administrator of NOAA since 2009. Nominated by President Obama in December 2008 as part of his ‘Science Team,’ she is a marine ecologist and environmental scientist by training, with expertise in oceans, climate change, and interactions between the environment and human well-being. She received her B.A. in Biology from Colorado College, her M.S. in Zoology from the University of Washington, and her Ph.D. in Ecology from Harvard University. Her academic career as a professor began at Harvard University (1975-1977) and continued at Oregon State University (1977-2009) until her appointment as NOAA Administrator.
Dr. Lubchenco also served on the National Academy of Sciences study on “Policy Implications of Global Warming” under the administration of George H.W. Bush. She served on several commissions, including the Pew Oceans Commission, the Joint Oceans Commission Initiative, the Aspen Institute Arctic Commission, and the Council of Advisors for Google Ocean. Top
Congressman Ed Markey
Excellence in Policy, 2013
Representative Markey (D-MA 5th District) has a strong record of support for the oceans including as a critic of offshore drilling and outspoken critic of BP during its oil blowout in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010. He has promoted legislation to address climate change and ocean acidification, supports sustainable fishing policy and, as the ranking member of the House Natural Resources Committee has been a strong defender of National Ocean Policy, the Clean Water Act and other environmental protections for our public seas.
Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation
Foundation Spirit Award, 2010
Established in September 2000, the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation seeks to create positive outcomes for future generations. The Foundation operates in three specific areas of focus—environmental conservation, science, and the San Francisco Bay Area—where a significant and measurable impact can be achieved. Distinct initiatives have been created within these three program areas, employing a portfolio of grants to help achieve targeted, large-scale outcomes in a set time frame. Within the Environmental Conservation Program, the Marine Conservation Initiative’s goal is to achieve progress towards resilient and productive marine ecosystems in British Columbia, the U.S. West Coast, and New England by implementing area-based management and reforming fisheries management. Top
Awards for Science, 2004
Dr. Myers held the Killam Chair of Ocean Studies at Halhousie University in Halifax, Nova Scotia. He published over 100 refereed scientific publications in diverse fields of aquatic ecology. Research areas included study in extinction in the ocean and he was actively involved in developing methods for the optimal management of exploited populations. He also worked on models for the extinction of salmonid species, elasmobranchs, and marine turtles. In October 2005, Fortune Magazine declared him one of the top 10 people to watch in the world, listing him between then-Senator Barack Obama and the co-founders of Google. He died in 2007 forever leaving a mark on the world of marine research and exploration. Top
Naples Daily News
Awards for Journalism, 2004
The Naples Daily News was recognized in 2004 as a recipient in the inaugural awards. As the source of news for people in western Florida, this newspaper pays careful attention to matters concerning the Gulf of Mexico. They received the Award for Journalism to recognize a 15-part series called “Deep Trouble – The Gulf in Peril” about the environmental challenges in the region. Top
Dr. Steve Palumbi
Excellence in Science, 2011
For his work using genetic technologies to improve marine conservation
Dr. Palumbi is an author and scientist. He is Director of Hopkins Marine Station, Stanford University and is the Harold A. Miller Professor in Marine Sciences, Stanford University.
He received his Ph.D. from University of Washington in marine ecology. His research group studies the genetics, evolution, conservation, population biology and systematics of a diverse array of marine organisms. His research interests are similarly widespread, and he has published on the genetics and evolution of sea urchins, whales, cone snails, corals, sharks, spiders, shrimps, bryozoans, and butterfly fishes. A primary focus is the use of molecular genetic techniques in conservation, including the identification of whale and dolphin products available in commercial markets.
Current conservation work centers on the genetics of marine reserves designed for conservation and fisheries enhancement, with projects in the Philippines, Bahamas and western U.S. coast. Dr. Palumbi’s book, The Evolution Explosion: How Humans Cause Rapid Evolutionary Change, shows how rapid evolution is central to emerging problems in modern society. In January 2003, he appeared in the TV series, The Future is Wild, a computer-animated exploration of the possible courses of evolution in the next few hundred million years. His new book, published in November 2010, The Death and Life of Monterey Bay: A Story of Revival, is a good-news environmental story about the difference that ordinary citizens can make in creating diverse, sustainable ecosystems and diverse, sustainable economies.
In 2002, Dr. Palumbi moved his laboratory from Harvard University to Stanford University. Dr. Palumbi is a Pew Fellow in Marine Conservation and senior fellow at the Woods Institute for the Environment. Top
Excellence in Media, 2010
Louie Psihoyos, Executive Director of the Oceanic Preservation Society (OPS), has been recognized as one of the top photographers in the world. He was hired directly out of college to shoot for National Geographic Magazine and continued to create iconic images for the magazine for 18 years. His ability to bring humanity and wit to complicated science stories carries over to his filmmaking. In 2009, Psihoyos directed his first documentary film, The Cove, about an annual dolphin hunt in a secret cove in Taiji, Japan. The film suggests a microcosm of a larger picture: man’s disregard for the planet. Winner of the 2009 Oscar for Best Documentary Feature, the film has garnered over 50 awards from festivals and critics in the US and internationally. Top
Dr. Nancy Rabalais
Excellence in Science, 2012
Nancy is the Executive Director of the Louisiana Universities Marine Consortium (LUMCON) in the coastal Bayou town of Cocodrie, which is French for water-saturated crocodile and she did in fact spot an alligator (as opposed to our now endangered American crocodiles) 7 miles out at sea after Hurricane Katrina. She is often credited with discovering the Gulf of Mexico’s oxygen depleted Dead Zone that has grown to the size of New Jersey. While advancing the science on hypoxia for the past 29 years, she has also worked tirelessly to find ways to reduce the surplus fertilizer running down the Mississippi that feeds this seasonal disaster by testifying in front of Congress, meeting with farmers and agriculture associations up and down the river and in the U.S. heartland that drains into it.
Christopher Benchley Youth Award, 2013
As a high school intern at Mote Marine Laboratory in Florida, Sean Russell became aware of the problem of marine plastic pollution. In response he founded “Stow It-Don’t Throw It”, a statewide monofilament fishing line recycling program and collaborative effort between youth and environmental groups that has since gone national. In 2011, with the help of Mote Marine Laboratory, Sean led the first Youth Ocean Conservation Summit held in Florida that has now become an annual event. He has also given countless hours to community service projects while serving as a member of the Florida 4-H Program.
President Macky Sall of Senegal
Excellence in National Ocean Stewardship, 2013
As one of his first acts after his election in 2012, President Macky Sall rescinded all foreign fishing permits in his nation’s Exclusive Economic Zone. Within months of his action thousands of local fishermen were seeing their catches dramatically increased and their families and communities restored. President Sall is now moving forward with plans to assure a sustainable domestic fishery free of foreign exploitation, creating a marine resource management model for West Africa and the world.
Youth Activism, 2011
For his efforts to raise awareness about plastics in his school and community
Rudy Sanchez is a youth leader, speaker and environmental advocate. As a senior at Environmental Charter High School, Rudy spent his first couple years of secondary education as the shy student that hid quietly in the back of the classroom and considered environmentalism to be little more than complaints about dying polar bears and melting ice caps. That all changed when he took the Green Ambassador environmental leadership course. Instead of focusing on the negative, this course illuminated solutions and helped him see that youth could lead the change. After realizing that if anyone was going to make a difference, it was going to have to begin with him, he got more involved in the Green Ambassadors class and helped start and lead the Rise Above Plastics Youth Speaker Program — a partnership between Green Ambassadors and Surfrider Foundation. Not only was Rudy speaking passionately about sustainability, but he was leading his peers to do the same. He has helped train more than 60 youth to share their voice about educating and spreading a message to one’s peers and community. With each presentation and training, Rudy is creating a network of solutions so that everyone can be responsible for spreading solutions to their friends, family, and peers. Rise Above Plastics has only opened up countless opportunities. He has helped green the economy with Green My Parents, been trained for green jobs with the National Hispanic Environmental Council, helped green the Paramount Studio lot, and spoke at the International Plastics are Forever Youth Summit. Rudy’s ultimate goal is to empower lower-income communities with the practices of sustainability. He wants to make the green movement embedded deep into communities and everyday life. He wants to see healthy food available for all, clean air a standard in every community, and education using nature as a teaching tool. Top
Hero of the Seas, 2010
Cynthia M. Sarthou has served as Executive Director of the Gulf Restoration Network (GRN) since 1995. The GRN is committed to uniting and empowering people to protect and restore the resources of the Gulf of Mexico. The GRN works to address issues affecting the Gulf, including water quality, wetlands, sustainable fisheries, smart energy, and species at risk. Cynthia Sarthou is responsible for the day-to-day operations and staff management at the GRN. She works to elevate regional issues to a national level, and monitors federal agency action affecting coastal and marine endangered species in Gulf states. Cyn received her B.A. from the University of Guelph, Ontario, Canada, her law degree from the University of Mississippi in 1983, and her Masters of Law in Law and Marine Affairs from the University of Washington in 1992. Top
Excellence in Media, 2009
Mark Shelley is a Founder and the Executive Director of Sea Studios Foundation, a non-profit team of filmmakers, scientists, and social entrepreneurs, united by common passion to inspire a healthy and sustainable future. Sea Studios Foundation is the culmination of Mark’s lifelong ambition to harness the power of film-making to spotlight some of the most pressing issues of our times—from climate change to invasive species, from the loss of biological diversity to the loss of large predators and landscape fragmentation, and the vital role of our oceans in Earth’s life support systems. A producer of many award-winning films, Sea Studios Foundation is best known for its award-winning National Geographic prime-time series, Shape of Life and Strange Days in Planet Earth, hosted by Edward Norton. Mark graduated from Stanford University in Biology and conducted research at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution for two years. Mark was Program Director of Oceanics School. As a National Geographic filmmaker and Senior Series Producer, Mark has been part of numerous award winning exhibit and television programs. Mark is an expert SCUBA diver, submersible pilot, and airplane pilot with instrument rating, and an aspiring sustainable farmer. Top
Excellence in Media, 2012
Skerry’s photography is often seen in the pages of National Geographic Magazine. He balances the wonder of the living seas with thoughtful warnings about global threats including overfishing, climate change and pollution. He shares the wonder and warnings in his many public talks, through his photographs and in his visually stunning new book Ocean Soul in which he explains, “I have been blessed to realize my dream of becoming an underwater photojournalist, but with that I feel an obligation and sense of urgency to share what I have seen with others.”
Read about Brian in this Washington Post piece.
Youth Activism, 2004
Zander Srodes, at age eleven, created Turtle Talks – an interactive sea turtle seminar for children. In 2004, he wrote a sea turtle activity book to promote conservation in coastal communities around the world. The book is available in six languages. He has authored two other children’s activity books, one on the Gopher tortoise and one on freshwater turtles. There are over 250,000 books in print and all have been given away free.
Zander travels the world promoting conservation. In 2010, he spoke at the International Youth Biodiversity Conference in Aichi, Japan and the 30th International Sea Turtle Symposium in Goa, India. He is currently lending support to efforts involving eco-tourism.
Zander personally hosts groups of college students on two-week volunteer service trips to Costa Rica. There they work alongside local organizations and communities preserving Leatherback turtle nesting sites. He is an intern for SEE Turtles, and the Sea Turtle Conservancy, and a previous intern at Mote Marine Laboratory. He participates in TEDx Teen talks.
On Saturday mornings, he is a broadcaster on ESPN radio and talks about Florida sports. Top
Dr. Greg Stone
Excellence in Solutions, 2011
For his work establishing the Phoenix Islands Protected Area
Dr. Stone is Senior Vice President and Chief Scientist for Oceans with Conservation International. Before that he was vice president of Global Marine Programs at the New England Aquarium. Since 2000, Dr. Stone has led the effort to create the world’s largest marine protected area (an area about the size of France) around the Phoenix Islands in the country of Kiribati and was named one of the National Geographic Society’s Heroes of 2007 for this accomplishment.
His work was featured in the September 2008 Smithsonian magazine cover story “Victory at Sea,” and he also wrote about the Phoenix Islands in the February 2004 and January 2011 issues of National Geographic magazine. Greg Stone was named one of the finalists for the 2008 Boston Globe Magazine’s “Bostonian of the Year” for his work in ocean exploration and conservation. Greg is an ocean scientist who has written prolifically for science and popular publications, including Nature and National Geographic Magazine. He was senior editor of the Marine Technology Society Journal for six years. He has lectured worldwide and produced an award-winning series of marine conservation films.
His Antarctic book Ice Island won the 2003 National Outdoor Book Award for Nature and the Environment. He is a specialist in undersea technology and exploration, using deep-sea submersibles, undersea habitats and SCUBA diving in all oceans of the world. While living in Japan, he established a cooperative deep-sea research program between Japan and the United States. He is a SCUBA instructor and research diver with over 5,000 dives, and has lived for a month in undersea habitats.
He is a National Fellow of the Explorers Club, a recipient of the Pew Fellowship for Marine Conservation and was awarded the National Science Foundation/U.S. Navy Antarctic Service medal for research in Antarctica. Dr. Stone is an honorary associate professor at the Leigh Marine Laboratory at the University of Auckland, New Zealand, and Vice-Chair of the World Economic Forum’s Global Agenda Council on Ocean Governance. Top
Youth Activism, 2010
Kyle Theirmann is a pro surfer with a passion to systemically affect change. Combining surfing great waves around the world with making a series of short films about current issues, Thiermann focuses on the power we have to create a better world through everyday actions that we take.
His first video, Claim Your Change, details how money kept in multinational banks is used to finance destructive projects all over the world. Kyle has surfed his way across Indonesia, Chile, Peru, El Salvador, Costa Rica, Mexico, Australia, Hawaii and throughout the U.S. He uses the support from his sponsors including Patagonia to generate publicity that encourages people to take action to transform their communities and the world. Kyle’s work has been featured in dozens of media outlets worldwide including Surfer Magazine and The Huffington Post. Kyle speaks at universities, high schools, and elementary schools throughout California. Top
President Anote Tong of Kiribati
President Tong, recently re-elected for a third term in office, has become a globally recognized figure for his work on climate response, ocean protection and multinational collaboration. He was instrumental in creating one of the World’s largest and most biologically rich marine protected areas, the Phoenix Islands Protected Area, which was recently declared a UN World Heritage Site. He has also been an outspoken global advocate for climate change response given the threat sea level rise poses to his nation and his people. He is also a key player in the Pacific islands Forum of 16 independent states that are taking control of their marine resources and planning a “Pacific Seascape,” of linked marine protected areas. Top
Excellence in Exploration, 2010
Dr. Walsh is an oceanographer, explorer and retired Navy captain whose career was in submarines. IN 1960, Walsh and Jacques Piccard dove to the oceans’ deepest place in the Navy’s Bathyscaph Trieste. For the past 50 years he has remained active in undersea science, technology, and operations. His contributions were recognized in 2001 when he was elected to the National Academy of Engineering. In addition to his undersea work he has also participated in over 57 expeditions to the Arctic and Antarctic. The “Walsh Spur” in the Antarctic is named in his honor. Since 1976, he has been head of an ocean-oriented consulting practice, International Maritime, Inc. Top
Senator Sheldon Whitehouse
Excellence in Policy, 2012
From the “Ocean State” of Rhode Island, Senator Whitehouse has become a major champion of marine protection in Congress. He recently introduced legislation for a National Endowment for the Oceans to be partly funded out of the Restore Act that would direct most of the billions of dollars of Clean Water Act penalties expected to be levied against BP for the oil disaster of 2010 to ecological restoration in the Gulf (see Seaweed Spotlight below). Along with Republican Senator Olympia Snowe of Maine this progressive democrat helped create the bipartisan Senate Ocean Caucus this past year (see Blue Notes # 91), bipartisanship being an otherwise endangered species on Capitol Hill. His depth of knowledge on coastal and ocean issues isn’t hurt by the fact that his wife Sandra Whitehouse is also a highly respected marine biologist.
Dr. Boris Worm
Excellence in Science, 2013
Boris Worm is a Marine Research Ecologist and Associate Professor at Dalhousie Univeristy, Canada. He and his wife Dr. Heike Lotze have made scientific contributions in the fields of marine ecology and fisheries conservation. Worm was a postdoctoral fellow under the late Ransom Myers, the first winner of a Benchley science award, and has continued much of their work on global fisheries and other issues of biodiversity. He now leads his own lab at Dalhousie. Along with his research he guides students and postdoctoral fellows in the study of marine biodiversity, the consequences of anthropogenic change on the marine environment and management solutions for ocean conservation.