Blue Ambassador of the Year Finalists:
Award Recipient - Marilu Cristina Flores - Lake Park, Florida
Marilu Cristina Flores is a coral conservationist with a passion for her community and Florida's diverse ecosystems. In 2020, she officially registered her nonprofit "Conservation Key" and through a grant from WCS and her own private funding acquired a fleet of submersible drones, which she has used to conduct coral surveys and fish population counts in Palm Beach County and along the Florida Reef Tract.
Describe how the nominee's efforts directly or indirectly benefit marine life and/or marine conservation:
Since Conservation Key's inception in late 2020, Marilu has used her submersible drones to conduct over a dozen, no-cost surveys for various conservation organizations including: the Florida Dept. of Environmental Protection, the Reef Institute and the Surfrider Foundation. Her incredible love for Florida's coral reefs has led to her tireless efforts to document as much of it as possible, especially the often neglected portions located in her current hometown of West Palm Beach.
What are the specific results of the nominee's efforts? The results are yielding a better and more robust visual understanding of the health of Florida's coral reef tract, especially the northern portion of the tract that are often forgotten. Not only does Marilu organize, coordinate and help manage the surveys, she also ensures all the footage is uploaded as open source content, available at no cost to researchers, educators, conservationists and even visual artists, who have used the content to learn, inspire and teach.
List any of the nominee's outstanding contributions to marine conservation: Through her passion and dedication to marine conservation, Marilu has helped make connections between nonprofit organizations and individuals in the South Florida community that benefit from knowing one another and building a strong community of all those hoping to make a difference for our oceans. In 2021, she organized the first annual Coral Reef Festival, pro-bono. Building on her relationships in the art, music and conservation community to drive fundraising for coral reef conservation in Palm Beach County.
View Resume Here >
Steve Kamlet - Merrick, New York
Steve Kamlet is an amazing individual who has dedicated his life to health, nature and the care for the oceans. He is a professional SCUBA diver who has dove on 5 continents, dozens of countries and many of the most remote islands around the world in all kinds of conditions. He has recently released a book titled The Tales of SCUBA Steve: Honu's Reef, which is the first of a series of children's books dedicated to share the wonder of the oceans to our next generation of children.
The themes of the books are about learning and caring for the ocean, and a portion of the proceeds from each book will be donated to ocean conservation efforts and organizations such as Fins Attached Marine Research & Conservation, The Nakawe Project, Loggerhead Marinelife Center, the Coral Restoration Foundation™ and Shark Allies as well as helping to send children to summer camp via The Scuba Steve Scholarship Fund!
Steven "SCUBA STEVE" Kamlet
Lifeguard / Swim Instructor 1985 - 1987
Camp Monchatea, Farmingdale NY
Summer Day Camp
• Provide swim instruction to campers of all ages
The Ohio State University, Columbus, OH
Ana Vergne - Riviera Beach, Florida
Ana has taken on the hugely important job of getting trash out of our area BEFORE it gets to the ocean or lagoon. Her group is Community Trash Warriors. Every day she and her crew are out collecting trash, meeting with council members, and recruiting new trash warriors.