Oceana Opens Voting for 3rd Annual Ocean Heroes Award Contest - Oceana USA

Oceana Opens Voting for 3rd Annual Ocean Heroes Award Contest

Finalists Hail From CA, AK, GA, NY, ME, FL and MN

Press Release Date: May 9, 2011

Location: Washington, DC


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



Washington DC– Today, Oceana announces the beginning of public voting for its 3rd annual Ocean Heroes Contest. After carefully reviewing over 500 nominations for the most exceptional contributors to ocean conservation, Oceana selected a group of six adult finalists and six 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 May 31. Votes should be submitted at www.oceana.org/heroes.

“We have an outstanding group of Ocean Hero finalists this year, and Oceana is proud to acknowledge their work in helping protect our oceans. We hope these dedicated individuals inspire others to get involved in ocean conservation,” said Oceana Chief Executive Officer Andrew Sharpless.

The adult finalists include:

  • Maria Rita D’Orsogna, Northridge, CA – Has been fighting offshore drilling in the Italian region of Abruzzo since 2007. Dubbed the “Erin Brockovich of Abruzzo”, her campaign helped convince the Italian government to deny at least a dozen offshore permits to drill in 2010
  • Zach Rome, Brooklyn, NY Founded The Schooba Academy to teach low-income students about science through scuba diving… all at no cost
  • Nancy Caruso, Garden Grove, CA – Has taught over 4,000 students to grow kelp in classroom nurseries, which has then been planted in the ocean by the 250 volunteer scuba divers she has trained
  • Zander Srodes, Gainesville, FL – Creator of “Turtle Talks”, an interactive sea turtle seminar for kids. 250,000 of his sea turtle activity books have been distributed
  • Peter Wallerstein, El Segundo, CA, – Has personally rescued more than 3,000 marine mammals and birds in Southern California
  • Dirk Rosen, Richmond, CA Has over 25 years of deepwater engineering experience and founded the non-profit organization Marine Applied Research and Exploration (MARE)


The junior finalists include:

  • Dylan Vecchione (12), Pacific Palisades, CA – Started ReefQuest, an organization that engages kids in reef conservation, after seeing coral bleaching in his favorite reef (Maui’s Kehikili Reef). To date, over 4,000 kids have taken ReefQuest sponsored classes
  • Carter (10) & Olivia Reis (8), Fayetteville, GA – Started the organization “One More Generation”, to raise awareness about endangered species around the world.
  • Wyatt Workman (8), Glendale, CA Through artistic endeavors that include a book, he has raised nearly $4,000 for ocean conservation.
  • McKenzy Haber (14), Alaska–  Hosted the first ever TEDx conference for teens in Homer, Alaska last year, with the theme of sustainability
  • Sophi Bromenshenkel (8), Richfield, MNThrough e-mail campaigns, lemonade and hot chocolate stands, Sophi has raised more than $3,500 for The University of Miami’s conservation program, where her funds pay for satellite tags on sharks
  • Andrew Hayford (16), York, ME Has participated in nearly 30 beach clean-ups and hosted 10 of his own. With Blue Ocean Society he designed the “Keep Our Beaches Clean Campaign”.

Based on the voting results, a winner in each division will be announced in conjunction with World Oceans Day on June 8, 2011.

All adult and junior finalists are due to 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 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. Furthermore, 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 500,000 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.