Foundation Statement on the Passing of Dr. Wallace J. Nichols

Silver Spring, Md. – June 19, 2024The National Marine Sanctuary Foundation released the following statement on the passing of Dr. Wallace J. Nichols from President and CEO Joel R. Johnson: 

“The conservation community lost an incredible champion this weekend with the news that Dr. Wallace J. Nichols passed away. J was a friend and mentor to many in the ocean community, especially in and around Monterey Bay, California where he was an ambassador to the National Marine Sanctuary Foundation’s Monterey Bay chapter.  

“J’s Blue Mind philosophy—that time spent near, in, on or under water in any form is good for our cognitive, emotional, psychological, social, physical and spiritual wellbeing—enlightened millions of people about the benefit of connecting with our waters including national marine sanctuaries, and in turn the importance of maintaining the health of those waters for the benefit of nature and people.  

“As J shared in a Foundation in a recent blog, ‘When we take care of our sanctuaries, they can take care of us.’ J’s legacy will live on in those that embrace this view of ocean connection and conservation.” 

“As a Foundation, we express our profound sympathies to J’s family, friends and all who were inspired by him.”


Ginaia Kelly, Monterey Bay Chapter Director at the National Marine Sanctuary Foundation, worked closely with Dr. Nichols and shared: 

“J’s passing was sudden and unexpected, leaving an enormous hole in our hearts. … I have had the privilege of knowing J for almost 30 years. In all that time, I never saw him decline an offer to speak, inspire, participate, or educate on behalf of the ocean, its inhabitants, and his Blue Mind philosophy. Whether compensated or not, he selflessly served other nonprofit organizations as a director, advisor, or ambassador. He frequently gave away free copies of his book, Blue Mind, and traveled to the far ends of the globe to speak to crowds and hand out his blue marbles. And J was always willing to spend hours over coffee discussing how we could change the world for the better. 

“… I find comfort in knowing that his legacy and his desire to inspire will not diminish. I am committed to spreading his message and keeping his important work alive. 

“J, we wish you water.”



The National Marine Sanctuary Foundation, established in 2000, is the official non-profit partner of the National Marine Sanctuary System. The Foundation directly supports America’s national marine sanctuaries through our mission to protect species, conserve ecosystems and preserve cultural and maritime heritage. We accomplish our mission through community stewardship and engagement programs, on-the-water conservation projects, public education and outreach programs, and scientific research and exploration. The Foundation fosters innovative projects that are solution-oriented, scalable and transferable, and develop strategic partnerships that promote the conservation and recovery of species and their habitats. Learn more at 


Contact: Chip Weiskotten 

Director of Strategic Communications