Oceana announces winners of the 2nd annual “Ocean Heroes Award” - Oceana USA

Oceana announces winners of the 2nd annual “Ocean Heroes Award”

Bird rescuer working in the gulf and student shark activists are voted Ocean Heroes

Press Release Date: June 8, 2010

Location: Washington, D.C.


Dustin Cranor, APR | email: dcranor@oceana.org | tel: 954.348.1314


On World Oceans Day, Oceana and partners Nautica, West Marine, Planet Green and GQ announced the adult and junior winners of the second annual Ocean Heroes Contest. Jay Holcomb, Executive Director of the International Bird Rescue Research Center, was voted the adult Ocean Hero and The Shark Finatics, a group of students from the Green Chimneys School in Brewster, New York, were voted the Junior Ocean Heroes.

“We are proud to honor these everyday people who are making a big difference for the oceans,” said Andrew Sharpless, Oceana’s Chief Executive Officer. “In light of the disaster in the Gulf of Mexico and the state of the oceans worldwide, we need people like Jay Holcomb and the Finatics to continue their heroic work and inspire others to get involved.”

The Ocean Heroes will be officially recognized at an exclusive World Oceans Day party in Los Angeles on June 8th with Nautica, GQ magazine and Oceana. They will also receive a $500 gift card from Nautica and a $200 gift card and Raiatea binoculars from West Marine.

“Nautica is proud to help Oceana recognize the great work that Mr. Holcomb and The Finatics are doing for our oceans,” said Karen Murray, president of leading global lifestyle brand Nautica, which is the lead sponsor of the Ocean Heroes Award. “Now, more than ever, the oceans need heroes like them who address the issues head on and inspire others to act.”

Oceana’s 2010 Ocean Heroes contest was launched in March, when the general public was invited to submit nominations.  After the nomination period, a group of finalists in both the adult and junior categories were selected by a panel of experts from Oceana. Oceana’s online supporters and others were then invited to vote and ultimately choose the 2010 Ocean Heroes at www.Oceana.org/heroes/vote.  

“It’s particularly poignant that I have won this award in the midst of the greatest oil spill disaster in U.S. history.” said Jay Holcomb, who is currently leading IBRRC’s bird rescue team in Venice, Louisiana to help with the relief effort. “My career stems from a passion that has burned in me since I was a child. I have always approached my work as trying to change the world one bird at a time. My hope is that this award reminds people that whatever we can do personally to protect our oceans does make a difference, no matter how overwhelming the task may seem at times.”

Holcomb has over 40 years of experience in wildlife rehabilitation. He has been the Executive Director at IBRRC since 1988 and in that time has led over 200 oil spill responses around the world. He pioneered the oiled wildlife search and rescue during the Exxon Valdez spill and in 2000 he oversaw the rescue of 20,000 oiled African penguins in South Africa.

“Words can’t even begin to describe how it feels winning this award,” said Robin Culler, the teacher who founded the group of student shark activists, The Shark Finatics. “To be winning recognition for all of our work in shark conservation at this time is extremely poignant. It is unfortunate that it often takes a catastrophe, such as the oil spill, for people to sit up and pay attention to the declining state of our oceans.”

Culler formed the Finatics with students at Green Chimneys School three years ago. Since then the club, which this year consisted of 26 students ages 12 to 17, has raised funds for shark conservation, educated hundreds of people about the horrors of shark finning, written letters to President Obama and Congress urging support of legislation for sharks and have even compiled a book, “Our Shark Story.”

Holcomb and the Finatics were among a group of outstanding finalists that come from diverse backgrounds. They included a mental health professional who helps inner city youths become certified scuba divers, sustainable seafood chefs, marine mammal rescuers and activists as young as 13 years old.  To learn more about all the Ocean Heroes Finalists visit: www.Oceana.org/heroes/vote.

To take action for the oceans and help prevent another oil spill like the Deepwater Drilling Disaster visit: www.StoptheDrill.org.




Founded in 1983, Nautica® is a leading global lifestyle brand ranging from men’s, women’s and children’s apparel and accessories to a complete home collection. Nautica® products are refined casual classics inspired and energized by the water that are always crisp, clean and distinct. Today Nautica® is available in more than 60 countries with more than 200 Nautica® branded stores worldwide. Nautica® has contributed to Oceana to support its mission to save the world’s oceans. For more information about Nautica visit, www.Nautica.com.

GQ’s Gentlemen Fund

The Gentlemen’s Fund® initiative raises awareness for issues that are essential to modern men. GQ encourages men to become agents of change by supporting charities that champion these causes. GQ, Nautica and Adrian Grenier are supporting Oceana’s efforts to help prevent further pollution and the endangerment of aquatic life.  More information about GQ Gentlemen’s fund can be found at: http://thegentlemensfund.com/


Planet Green

Planet Green is the multiplatform media destination for people looking for something new. Launched on June 4, 2008, Planet Green is following the evolving conversation about sustainability and is the entertainment brand that champions the visionaries who move our world forward in small and large ways. Planet Green and its two robust Web sites, planetgreen.com and TreeHugger.com, offer unique, insightful and inspiring content related to how we can evolve to live a better, brighter future. Planet Green’s original programming, digital tools and content will entertain, educate and activate. For more information visit www.PlanetGreen.com


West Marine

West Marine is the largest specialty retailer of boating supplies and accessories, with over 50,000 products and more than 330 stores located in 38 states, Puerto Rico and Canada, and Turkey. West Marine’s vision is to operate in accordance with established principles of sustainability, reducing their impact on the environment and contributing to the communities where they serve. Visit www.Westmarine.com to learn more.



International Bird Rescue Research Center (IBRRC) has been saving birds around the world for almost 40 years. As well as operating two year-round aquatic bird rescue centers in California, which serve as the hub for ongoing training and research, IBRRC has managed oiled bird rescue efforts in over 200 oil spills in more than 18 countries. For more information visit http://www.ibrrc.org /



Founded in 1947, Green Chimneys restores possibilities and creates futures for children with emotional, behavioral, social and learning challenges.  It is world renowned for its animal-assisted therapy program and operates a residential treatment center for children, an accredited special education school, a farm and wildlife rehabilitation center, an organic farm and horticulture therapy program, a therapeutic riding program, community based services including a runaway shelter and community outreach center, Clearpool Education Center, Nature’s Nursery and Hillside Summer Camp, LGBTQ programs in New York City, programs and special events for the public and adult services programs in Connecticut.  Each year, Green Chimneys serves more than 3,000 children and their families.  More information on Green Chimneys is available at www.greenchimneys.org.