Thompson Honored at Benchley Ocean Awards
Nainoa Thompson, President of the Polynesian Voyaging Society and captain of the voyaging canoe Hokulea, was recognized for Excellence in Exploration and honored at the 2015 Peter Benchley Ocean Awards ceremony on Thursday.
The awards represent what some have called the “Academy Awards” for the ocean, as they recognize a variety of expertise, including national leadership, policy, science, media, youth, and grassroots activism.
“I am honored to accept this award on behalf of my teachers who came from some of the greatest explorers our Earth has ever seen,” Thompson expressed. “Their resolve and solution-focused perspective is what driver our worldwide voyage on Hokulea today. Our destination is navigating to a place where we see better protection of our oceans through collaboration with people and entities epitomized by the Benchley awards and their partners.”
Thompson was presented with the honor for hisefforts and contributions to marine conservation and exploration as the first Hawaiian in seven centuries to practice the ancient Polynesian art of long-distance navigating, or “wayfinding.”
United States Senator Brian Schatz, a powerful voice for marine protection himself, presented the award to Thompson.
“I can think of no one more deserving of the Award for Excellence in Exploration than Nainoa. Decades ago, Nainoa found the deep seeded strength and beauty of discovery,” Senator Schatz explained. “He worked it, collaborated with others, and actualized it. What’s remarkable is that the energy of this vision grew from a Hawaiian vision, to a Pacific Islands vision, and now to a global vision. His life’s work, the Hokulea, has become a symbol and a tribute to the art of voyaging and the enduring Native Hawaiian culture. This is a great honor not only for him, but for all of us in Hawai’i.”
Named after lifelong marine conservationist Peter Benchley, the awards represent one of the more preeminent ocean honors in the world. Wendy Benchley, an ocean advocate, co-founded the awards program with David Helyarg, the author and executive director of Blue Frontier.
Other awardees include Prince Albert II of Monaco for the Award for Excellence, Secretary of State John Kerry for Excellence in Policy, Dr. Daniel Pauly for Excellence in Science, The Economist for Excellence in Media, Madison “Pip” Stewart for the Christopher Benchley Youth Award, Todd Miller for Hero of the Seas, and Dana Beach for Hero of the Seas.
Every two years, the award ceremony takes place in Washington D.C. and San Francisco, CA. Winners are nominated by the ocean conservation community and are chosen by the Peter Benchley Ocean Awards selection committee.