The GIRL of THE SEA of CORTEZ is my favorite Peter Benchley novel. It's a high-spirited adventure story that speaks to my personal love of the ocean and all its fascinating creatures. The story takes you under the sea to experience the spectacular, but it also shares the threats facing our seas. While this book was written 30 years ago, Peter was prescient about mans complex relationship to the sea. This captivating story is even more relevant today than ever.
--Gregory S. Stone, Ph.D., Chief Scientist for Oceans, Conservation International
"The ocean drives the water cycle, the carbon cycle, the oxygen cycle, the nitrogen cycle … it drives the way the world works. Even if you never touch the ocean, the ocean touches you every day. And it’s only now, as we get into the 21st century, that we’re beginning to put the blue part of the planet on the balance sheet."
"It is our responsibility to preserve and cherish this pale blue dot, the only home we've ever known."
--Carl Sagan, Astronomer + Author
“For most of history, man has had to fight nature to survive; in this century he is beginning to realize that, in order to survive, he must protect it.”
--Jacques Cousteau, Oceanographer + Explorer
On May 15th we honored eight heroes in national stewardship, science, policy, media, grassroots activism and the promise of youth to offer us solutions and hope. The Peter Benchley Ocean Awards are the world’s preeminent ocean awards and are unique in acknowledging outstanding achievement across many sectors of society leading to the protection of our ocean, coasts and the communities that depend on them. The awards celebrate Peter's legacy as someone who spent more than 40 years educating the public and expanding awareness of the importance of protecting sharks and ocean ecosystems.
In honoring President Macky Sall of Senegal this year we are honoring a third national leader following President Laura Chinchilla of Costa Rica and President Anote Tong of Kiribati. These ocean heroes have come from Latin America, Oceana and Africa and reflect both a great challenge and a great hope.
The challenge is the devastating impacts of overfishing for the global seafood market, oil, plastic, chemical and nutrient pollution, loss of habitat to coastal sprawl and the global impacts of climate change. The hope is that nations like Costa Rica, Kiribati and Senegal in taking actions to restore and protect their seas can also inspire larger nations such as China, India, Brazil and the United States to enact strong policies and promote global initiatives for the betterment of our last great commons and blue frontier.
Certainly saving our seas and the people who depend on them (all of us) will require the imagination and boldness that we recognize in this year's Benchley winners. It will take the calculated risk of the explorer, the dedicated focus of the scientist, the practical statecraft of the policymaker, the communicative skills of the media worker, the impassioned idealism of youth and the inspirational leadership of both presidents and grassroots activists.