Award Categories

Categories of Excellence

National Stewardship of the Ocean

Awarded to the representative of a nation that has made a unique and exceptional contribution to the protection, restoration and appreciation of our global oceans.

Excellence in Science

Awarded to an individual or individuals who have provided cutting edge marine science either through his or her efforts or as leader(s) of a team that has advanced the cause of understanding ocean processes, marine ecology and conservation biology.

Excellence in Policy

Awarded to an individual who contributes to advancing the cause of sustainable ocean use and protection based on the best available science and through the establishment of effective and enforceable laws and regulations.

Excellence in Media

Awarded to an individual or media outlet that shows exceptional ability in communicating ocean issues of concern to the public in ways that inform and/or inspire people to act as engaged citizens.

Excellence in Solutions

Awarded to an individual who helps find or create a practical solution to one of the many environmental challenges confronting our seas.

Excellence in Exploration

Awarded to an individual or group that contributes to our understanding of the seas through bold exploring and courageous efforts to uncover new and different aspects of our ocean planet.

Ocean Spirit Foundation Award

The Ocean Spirit Foundation Award went to a charitable foundation whose work provided measurable and enduring benefit to the cause of ocean and coastal protection and restoration. This prize category has been discontinued.

Christopher Benchley Youth Award

Awarded to a young person who early in life has already made a significant contribution to marine conservation and public education about our seas.

Hero of the Seas Award

Awarded to a marine grassroots activist or activists who have made a major and long-term commitment to improving the quality of our seas and the communities that depend on them.




To contact Co-Founder, Wendy Benchley, please email Wendy's Executive Assistant Mary Fritz,


To contact Co-Founder, David Helvarg, please email,