Ocean Hero Finalists: Suzanne Thurman - Oceana USA
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April 29, 2010

Ocean Hero Finalists: Suzanne Thurman

This is the first in a series of posts highlighting the 2010 Ocean Hero finalists.

Starting today, I’ll be highlighting one finalist per day on the blog. First up is Suzanne Thurman, the founder and director of the Marine, Education, Research & Rehabilitation Institute, Inc. (MERR), Delaware’s only organization devoted to the response and rescue of marine mammals and sea turtles.

Suzanne has been participating in stranding response in Delaware since 1995, and before that, she worked for many years in environmental education and special education.

MERR, which is 10 years old this year, has provided stranding response to more than 1000 animals, beginning with one sea turtle that spent the night in Suzanne’s laundry room.

The organization now has a dedicated facility equipped with rescue tanks to hold seals, sea turtles, and small dolphins, as well as a lab to conduct research on the animals that have died. They also have a rescue vehicle to safely transport animals from the beach to the facility, and assist with animal relays for other states.

Suzanne and her dedicated team of volunteers provide stranding response for whales, dolphins, porpoises, seals, manatees, and sea turtles, which are threatened by fishing gear entanglements, marine toxins, ingestion of marine debris, boat collisions, and more. 

MERR also provide free educational programs to students, groups, and the general public about marine animals and ocean health, reaching more than 10,000 people annually.

Here’s a video of Suzanne’s team in action.

And if you haven’t voted yet, check out the rest of the finalists and cast your vote!