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The finalists of the 2018 Ocean Awards

The finalists of the 2018 Ocean Awards

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Science Ocean Award 2018

The Science Award finalists

This award recognises the individual or research team that has made the most important scientific contribution to the ocean this year.

Criteria: Nominees for this award must have published or significantly contributed towards a game changing piece of scientific research that can be used for the benefit of global marine conservation or ocean health.

The finalists are:

  • Ben Halpern, NCEAS - National Centre for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis, including ongoing work ‘Planetary Boundaries for a Blue Planet’
  • David Obura, CORDIO, Western Indian Ocean, Ocean Economy Report
  • Fabiano Thompson (Federal University of Rio de Janeiro) Amazon Reef Science
  • Professor Ove Hoegh-Guldberg, Global Change Institute, University of Queensland, Science advisor Chasing Reef

Ben Halpern, NCEAS - National Centre for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis, including ongoing work ‘Planetary Boundaries for a Blue Planet’

With NCEAS for two decades, Ben’s research interests are primarily in marine ecology and conservation planning but span a wide range of disciplines. He has led several broad research programs addressing different aspects of managing ocean ecosystems, including a global synthesis of how much and where MPAs meet conservation and fisheries objectives, development of new tools and the application of them to a global assessment mapping the cumulative impact of human activities on the ocean, and development/application of the Ocean Health Index. Among other things he worked on the 5th IPCC report & co-authored a 2017 paper on planetary boundaries for a blue planet.


David Obura, CORDIO, Western Indian Ocean, Ocean Economy Report

Dr Obura is the coordinator for CORDIO East Africa - CORDIO standing for Coastal Oceans Research and Development in the Indian Ocean. CORDIO was initiated in 1999 as a response to the El-Niño related mass bleaching and mortality of corals in the Indian Ocean in 1998. It is a non-profit research organisation, registered in Kenya, with a network of projects, collaborators and partners that extends across the Indian Ocean. The organisation supports activities in mainland Africa and Indian Ocean island states, including research, monitoring and capacity building of coral reefs and coastal ecosystems. A primary focus is the implications of global and local threats to coral reef health and their long-term prospects and provision of socio-economic benefits. As David Obura states, ‘with the future of coral reefs in serious question, their role as an indicator of impending changes to other natural and human-dominated ecosystems is increasingly critical’, and so much of his work is focused on preparing for and mitigating future disasters. The past year has been an important one for David Obura and CORDIO as can be seen from his achievements.


Fabiano Thompson (Federal University of Rio de Janeiro), Amazon Reef Science

Given the characteristics of the Amazon River Mouth: deep, turbid waters with low salinity and light penetration; a reef formation was deemed unlikely. However, this team of four scientists - Fabiano Thompson, Ronaldo Francini, Nils Asp and Eduardo Siegle - described in 2016 an extensive reef system off the Amazon mouth underneath the river plume. In 2017, the team sailed with Greenpeace to take the first images of the reef with submarines. This project is changing our knowledge about drivers of reef formation under suboptimal conditions and opens many possibilities concerning location, connectivity between Brazil and the Caribbean and actions needed to avoid rapid reef decline in face of accelerated global changes.

Professor Ove Hoegh-Guldberg, Global Change Institute, University of Queensland, Science advisor Chasing Reef

Prof Ove Hoegh-Guldberg is the inaugural Director of the Global Change Institute at the University of Queensland and Professor of Marine Science at the University of Queensland. He is a leading coral biologist whose work focusses on the impact of global warming and climate change on coral reefs, for example coral bleaching. He was described in an article by John Tanzer, leader of WWF’s Global Oceans Practice as having been one of the first scientists to have begun sounding the alarm about how serious a threat climate change would be to coral reefs around the world. He became well known in the 90s for proposing that a 1 or 2 degree rise in sea temperature would be enough to wipe out the Barrier Reef – at the time, he faced a lot of international criticism for this. In his role at University of Queensland he leads a large research laboratory, which focuses on the impacts of global warming and acidification on coral reef.

Pictures courtesy of: Shutterstock.com / Lukiyanova Natalia frenta (right)

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