Contact: Barbra Gonzalez
University of Miami Rosenstiel School of Marine & Atmospheric Science
8-year-old Sophi Bromenshenkel named 2011 Oceana 'Ocean Hero'
Second-grader raises funds, awareness for shark conservation while working with RJ Dunlap Marine Conservation Program
Oceana awarded second grader Sophi Bromenshenkel with the "Ocean Hero" award in recognition of her efforts to raise more than $3,500 to pay for satellite tags that are used to track shark populations through the University of Miami's RJ Dunlap Marine Conservation Program(RJD). Sophi sold lemonade, hot chocolate, and even shark-shaped cookies in her hometown in Minnesota to raise funds and raise awareness for the plight of these amazing animals.
MIAMI – June 8, 2011- As temperatures rise and the summer sun shines down on neighborhoods across the United States, you are sure to find children trying their hands as entrepreneurs selling lemonade. More often than not, the profits never make up for the cost… except if you are 8-year old Sophi Bromenshenkel. This second grader is on a mission: to help save sharks. For the last year and a half she has been selling lemonade, hot chocolate, wristbands and even shark-shaped cookies, all in the name of shark conservation.
Oceana's award is in recognition of Sophi efforts to raise more than $3,500 to pay for satellite tags that are used to track shark populations through the University of Miami's RJ Dunlap Marine Conservation Program(RJD). Sophi visited South Florida last year, and she was on the boat with Dr. Neil Hammerschlag and his team as several sharks were tagged. She is able to follow their progress online through the RJD web site, from her home in Minnesota.
Sophi understands the role sharks play as an indicator of ocean health, and she knows they need help. That is why she hasn't stopped at selling baked goods, but has even implemented a blog, an email campaign and passes out flyers.
"We are tracking sharks in near real-time to better understand their migratory routes, residency patterns, and identify 'hot spots' that are critical for mating, pupping, and feeding. Sharks have generally led a life of mystery; that is until now. RJD's use of satellite tag technology gives us an opportunity to spy into their secret lives. Ultimately these studies will lead to more effective design and implementation of Marine Protected Areas and help protect shark populations," says Hammerschlag.
This is the third consecutive year Oceana has given the "Ocean Hero" award on World Oceans Day. Fellow ocean lovers vote online for the nominees, and one adult and one junior are dubbed "Ocean Heroes." The organizations hopes that people who are inspired by Sophi's work will make their own commitment to protecting the oceans this summer by pledging to be an Ocean Hero themselves at www.oceana.org/heroes.
"Sophi is a great example of how one small person can make a huge difference," added Hammerschlag.
Oceana is the largest international advocacy group working solely to protect the world's oceans. Oceana wins policy victories for the oceans using science-based campaigns. Since 2001, we have protected over 1.2 million square miles of ocean and innumerable sea turtles, sharks, dolphins and other sea creatures. More than 500,000 supporters have already joined Oceana. Global in scope, Oceana has offices in North, South and Central America and Europe. To learn more, please visit www.oceana.org.
About the University of Miami and the RJ Dunlap Marine Conservation Program
The University of Miami is the largest private research institution in the southeastern United States. The University's mission is to provide quality education, attract and retain outstanding students, support the faculty and their research, and build an endowment for University initiatives. Founded in 2009, the R.J. Dunlap Marine Conservation Program is a joint program of the Rosenstiel School of Marine & Atmospheric Science and the Leonard and Jayne Abess Center for Ecosystem Science and Policy at the University of Miami. The Rosenstiel School offers one of largest, most comprehensive marine and atmospheric programs in the nation. The Abess Center encourages innovative interdisciplinary initiatives that bridge the gap between hard science and environmental policy. For more information or to get involved, please visit www.rjd.miami.edu.