National Marine Sanctuary Foundation Announces 2018 Hollings Award Grantees

Silver Spring, MD – Today, the National Marine Sanctuary Foundation (the Foundation) announced over $140,000 in Ernest F. Hollings Ocean Awareness Awards to protect endangered species, engage children in science, and increase awareness about America’s treasured national marine sanctuaries.

The Foundation selected five recipients for this year’s awards. Two projects –Space to Sea: A Photographic Journey into Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary and Robust Citizen Science Data for West Coast National Marine Sanctuaries –support the Foundation’s goal to inspire stewardship of natural and cultural resources through America’s marine and Great Lakes sanctuaries. Three projects, funded with support from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)’s National Marine Fisheries Service—School and Community Leatherback Sea Turtle Project, Killer Whale Tales: Kids Making a Difference Now, and Global Action Explorers: Empowering Students for Action on Ocean Acidification—bring awareness to endangered and protected marine species, in partnership with NOAA’s Species in the Spotlight initiative.

“The projects we support through the Hollings Ocean Awareness Awards connect people from all walks of life to important research and conservation work that takes place in our national marine sanctuaries,” said Kris Sarri, President and CEO of the National Marine Sanctuary Foundation. “We are proud to partner with this year’s grantees and to support their efforts to inspire the next generation of ocean stewards.”

The Ernest F. Hollings Ocean Awareness Award aims to increase stewardship of natural and cultural resources in America’s ocean and Great Lakes. Established in 2005, the awards reflect the Foundation’s commitment to the legacy of U.S. Senator Ernest F. Hollings who authored an extraordinary range of laws to safeguard America’s ocean and coasts. To date, the Foundation awarded nearly $2 million to more than 60 groups for research, conservation, education, and outreach projects supporting the National Marine Sanctuary System and a healthy ocean.

Massachusetts Institute of Technology/MIT Sea Grant, Cambridge, MA ($40,000)

Space to Sea: A Photographic Journey into Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary”

Using underwater photography and environmental storytelling, Keith Ellenbogen, Visiting Artist at MIT Sea Grant and Assistant Professor Photography SUNY/FIT along with colleagues will showcase the dynamic underwater world of Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary, named the best place to see aquatic life by USA Today in 2016. Their work will reveal the sanctuary’s ecosystem, from its iconic humpback whales to its tiniest microscopic creatures.  Using underwater photography, 360˚VR, microscopy, and satellite imagery from outer space, this project will increase awareness of Stellwagen Bank and inspire people to take action to protect its important resources.


Pacific Grove Museum of Natural History, Pacific Grove, CA ($40,000)

“Robust Citizen Science Data for West Coast National Marine Sanctuaries”

Long-term Monitoring Program and Experiential Training for Students (LiMPETS) is an environmental education and citizen science program for middle school through college level students along the California coast.  LiMPETS  enhances ocean, climate and science literacy through national marine sanctuaries with the collection of long-term and scientifically sound data; identify status and trends in national marine sanctuary intertidal regions to detect emerging issues, inform resource management, and enhance awareness and stewardship of the ocean and coasts; and increase students’ interest in education and career pathways in marine science.


Greater Farallones Association, San Francisco, CA ($22,214)

School and Community Leatherback Sea Turtle Project”

Workshops and hands-on activities will teach elementary and middle school children and their families about the Pacific Leatherback Sea Turtle, one of NOAA’s Species in the Spotlight. The Pacific Leatherback Sea Turtle, one of the longest-migrating air-breathing marine vertebrates, is often found foraging in California’s four national marine sanctuaries: Channel Islands, Cordell Bank, Greater Farallones, and Monterey Bay. Designed to raise awareness of this endangered species and promote environmental stewardship, this project helps fulfill the Greater Farallones Association’s goal to increase science literacy and foster a strong ocean conservation ethic among California’s coastal communities. The Hollings Award will support the designing and piloting of the curriculum, which will reach 1,000-1,5000 students annually once launched.


Killer Whale Tales, Seattle, WA ($16,000)

Killer Whale Tales: Kids Making a Difference Now”

School-aged children in the Pacific Northwest will learn about the endangered Southern Resident killer whale, better known as orcas, through creative storytelling that incorporates concepts about behavioral and conservation biology into an imaginative narrative that encourages kids to consider how humans impact marine species and their habitats. Through a variety of activities, students participate in experiential science and role-playing activities based on current field studies related to Southern Resident killer whales. The program concludes with students completing some of Killer Whale Tales’ conservation worksheets to chart their families’ environmental footprint and plan to decrease their impact.


Ocean Discovery Institute, San Diego, CA ($25,000)

Global Action Explorers: Empowering Students for Action on Ocean Acidification”

This project empowers underserved students in San Diego, California to become environmental stewards through development, implementation, and evaluation of a climate change and ocean acidification program that engages 500 sixth grade students a year. The education program will integrate resources from Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary and infuse NOAA science into existing successful lessons, resulting in increased knowledge of the value of our ocean and sanctuaries, advance engagement in stewardship, and ignite a passion for conservation.