2016 Go Blue Awards – Blue Business Finalists






The Scuba Club

For almost 45 years, The Scuba Club has proved to be a business that promotes and encourages
conservation through its business practices, preservation activities and examples in the community.
Below are the reasons The Scuba Club should be the 2016 Blue Business of the Year!

• As the longest running dive operation in Palm Beach County, they scuba certify hundreds of people each year. In each class, students learn about the beauty and importance of marine life and how to safely and respectfully interact with it. After 44 years, the message of conservation has made a major impact on our community.
• The Scuba Club has been opposed to spear fishing since it opened in 1972, and continues to stand by the belief that we should not kill the ocean’s natural ecosystem. Spearfishing is only allowed for lionfish, which is an invasive species.
• The Scuba Club’s college educated staff are good examples to fellow divers of how to respectfully interact with marine animals and reef systems. They clearly and gently correct divers who are not respectful of the ocean habitat.
• The Scuba Club is active supporters of Lionfish Derbies, which act to deplete the invasive lionfish species on our reefs. They hold their own derbies and reward divers who help to solve the problem.
• The Scuba Club encourages their staff, members and customers to clean up the reef as they dive. Many divers bring up trash from the bottom, helping to save the lives of turtles, fish and other marine species.
• JD Duff, co-owner of The Scuba Club, had a film that was shown at the prestigious San Diego Film Festival about the importance of preserving the goliath grouper population and eliminating the moratorium on groupers. His film was shown alongside films from other famous videographers like Howard Hall.
• The Scuba Club believes that conservation starts with the youth in Palm Beach County. For the past five years they have implemented Scuba Camps teaching kids to love and preserve the ocean’s beauty through Discover Scuba classes, Scuba Camps (where kids get certified) and ocean dives.
• Not only is Scuba Camp available for kids to get certified, The Scuba Club offers Scuba Camp for certified divers too. This important camp keeps the excitement of the ocean and its inhabitants in the minds and hearts of our youngest conservationists.
• For the last three years, The Scuba Club has held Scuba Camps during lobster mini-season instead of running trips for those hoping to catch them. They do not support mini-season and believe that the regular season should be shortened on both ends by one month because so many pregnant females are captured.
• The Scuba Club has also reached the college population by teaching scuba certification classes to students at Palm Beach Atlantic University for 40 years! Through The Scuba Club, this important population is taught about the importance of preserving marine life ecosystems.
• Scuba diving isn’t for everyone, so The Scuba Club uses social media to bring the beauty of the ocean to the masses. The staff and members take pictures that are posted to Facebook, Instagram (which has a strong youth, high school and college following) and Twitter that promote conservation, restoration and preservation of our beautiful marine life and ecosystems.

I have been scuba diving in South Florida for 25 years. I got certified while I was a teenage college student at the University of Miami. Years later I moved to West Palm Beach after graduating from law school in Northern Florida and have lived in Palm Beach County since 1997. The Scuba Club was one of the first dive shops that I went out with in this area and for the past 19 years I have continued to dive with them on a regular basis. Below is a list of reasons why I enjoy diving with them which is also why they should be the 2016 Blue Business of the Year:

• As a native South Floridian, I have always loved the ocean and have huge respect for the ocean and marine life. The Scuba Club is the only local dive shop that I know of that prohibits spear fishing. While I am not opposed to spear fishing when done responsibly, many dive shops that allow spear fishing do not ensure that the spearing is done in a responsible manner by their guests. By prohibiting spear fishing, The Scuba Club eliminates the recklessness that often accompanies it.
• They do allow spear fishing for lionfish as this invasive species has had a negative impact on our local ecosystem. However, they ensure that any spearing oflionfish is done in a safe and responsible manner
• As a regular diver at the Scuba Club, I have seen firsthand how every instructor and staff member promotes marine education and conservation. From the way they teach new students to the way they inform and help divers both in and out of the water, it’s clear that their mission is to promote a healthy respect for the ocean and its inhabitants.
• JD Duff, the co-owner of The Scuba Club, is a well renown photographer and videographer. While I am merely an amateur photographer, JD has taken the time to work with me on techniques in the water to help improve my photos while at the same time ensuring that nothing is done to damage the reefs or our ecosystem.
• The Scuba Club has held seminars to promote education and conservation ofthe local marine life and reef systems. Such seminars have included media shows as well as lectures on the invasive lionfish problem.
• The Scuba Club offers “Scuba Camp” each summer to teach young people (and adults) how to dive. By targeting our local youths, the ideas behind education and conservation are taught at an early age. This is more important than ever given the information age we live in with social media and the like.
• The Scuba Club has a strong affiliation with Palm Beach Atlantic University. This connection has allowed hundreds of young students to learn about our oceans while learning how to dive responsibly and respectfully. In fact, many PBA students who learned to dive at the Scuba Club ended up working there for many years during school or even after they graduated.
• Many members of the Scuba Club take a mesh “trash bag” with them on their dives. They do this in order to clean up any trash they come across during the dives. Upon seeing this, other members have followed suit and started their own clean up crews.
• Having been in business for so long, the Scuba Club has seen multiple generations of divers come through its doors. The younger and future generations have learned from both their older family members as well as the staff how to dive responsibly and respectfully. This passing down of education and knowledge continues to this day and is a pleasure to see.

Marriott Ocean Palms

Marriott’s Oceana Palms, part of Marriott Vacations Worldwide (MVW) opened in early 2010, with the second building opening in 2013.  Oceana Palms has 159 two-bedroom villas, with an average annual occupancy of 93% year-round.  Marriott’s Oceana Palms is one of many resorts within Marriott Vacations Worldwide and has been recognized for outstanding performance for a variety of departments, associate engagement, and also won Resort of the Year in 2014. Marriott’s Oceana Palms achieved Marriott Vacations Worldwide World Class Resort in 2015 for outstanding performance on several metrics, including financials, guest satisfaction, associate engagement and community outreach efforts.

Marriott’s Oceana Palms is located on the beautiful Singer Island in Florida.  Our resort rests directly on the beach and we offer breath-taking views of the Atlantic Ocean from every villa on property. Our location on Singer Island allows us the opportunity to protect many sea turtle nests that appear between nesting season, March 1st and October 31st, and provide many enrichment programs and tools for our owners and guests to learn more about the local sea turtles and conservation efforts.

In addition to our conservation efforts related directly to the sea turtles, Marriott’s Oceana Palms has initiated a “Green Team” that meets to discuss ways we can conserve and help protect the environment.  We have also completed several projects which are directly related to protecting and reserving our natural resources.

Fast Facts:

  • 159 two-bedroom villas
  • Two tower buildings, Sunrise and Sunset
  • Two swimming pools, including a kids play area in one of the pools
  • Fitness Center, Activity Center, and Multi-purpose room available
  • Activities scheduled throughout the day for owners and guests of all ages
  • Private Beach Access; Beach Services provided
  • Two restaurants, The MarketPlace Bistro, and Reflections Bar & Grill
  • Highly engaged associates, ranked highest among South Florida MVW properties
  • Garage Parking; Key Access required to enter building and resort grounds
  • Resort of the Year for Marriott Vacations Worldwide for 2014
  • Active in community outreach, donations, and the Spirit to Serve


Loggerhead MarineLife Center’s Blue Business of the Year Award recognized a business that has made outstanding contributions in promoting conservation, restoration, or preservation of marine life and ecosystems through the business’ practices.  Marriott’s Oceana Palms, and Chris Cano, the leader and General Manager of Marriott’s Oceana Palms, are nominated as the Blue Business of the Year for the commitment to conservation, education, and to the community.

Marriott’s Oceana Palms is located directly on Riviera Beach, in the heart of the nesting center for Loggerhead, Green, and Leatherback sea turtles.  Conservation and education about these turtles are a part of our daily lives; we strive to enrich our owners and guests by sharing our knowledge of the environment and marine life so they can also be committed to saving our world.

Marriott’s Oceana Palms, since opening in 2010, has made strides to preserve our oceans, protect our environment and conserve resources as a company.  With only 100 Marriott associates, we are committed to giving back to our community and educating our owners and guests about what it is we do to preserve our local marine life and the environment.   From hosting nature tours, to installing water softening systems, we have a wide spectrum of technologies and activities that allow us to be a nominee for the Blue Business Award.

In 2016, Marriott’s Oceana Palms:

  • Promoted the importance of educating our owners and guests about our local waterways. Our Beach Team is seasoned and knowledgeable about the local reefs, tides, currents, and marine life and is able to share information with owners and guests.
  • Currently hold Gold status with Audubon International and registered as a Florida Green Lodging resort with the Department of Environmental Services.
  • On-going education for our associates, owners and guests on sea turtle hatchlings and conservation efforts. Weekly we host Turtle Conservation, which is a planned activity to educate our owners and guests about our local sea turtles (Loggerhead, Green, and Leatherback) conservation efforts, and provides awareness of possible harmful behaviors.
  • We have placards posted around the pool and the deck area going to the beach which provides information about the lifecycle of Loggerhead Sea Turtles and tips on how we can help conserve these marine animals.
  • We installed a water softening system which removes additional minerals from our water; this green system has allowed us to have “softer” water, preventing corrosion and other damaging effects hard water can have on water systems.
  • On-going adoption of Loggerhead Sea turtles via Loggerhead MarineLife Center; we have “turtle banks” around property where owners, guests, and associates are encouraged to drop coins to promote our conservation efforts. We have adopted a total of twelve turtles from Loggerhead MarineLife Center. We showcase our adoptions by framing the adopted turtles and posting them around the resort; this has created conversation between guests and associates.
  • As a resort, we promoted and created activities around World Oceans Day, which we celebrated on July 17th. We promoted this day on social media, flyers around the resort, and in our weekly activity guide.
  • With only 100 associates, we donated over $1,700 in cash or in-kind to local charities, including Loggerhead MarineLife Center; associates have spent over 100 hours cleaning the beach.
  • We donated over 500 pounds of food to the local West Palm Beach food bank to support our community during the Thanksgiving holiday.
  • Implemented low lighting on property during turtle nesting season, which is in agreement with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.
  • All windows and overhand glass are ¼ inch Atlantica Green with VE-52 glass.
  • Invested $84,000 in energy efficient LED lighting across our property.
  • Donated 304 bars of soap and 1,234 plastic bottles to Clean the World, an organization that benefits countries in need. Also, we donated 463 pounds of plastic to be recycled; donated $3,000 worth of housewares to Habitat for Humanity.
  • In January 2016, we signed up with PESCO Energy Natural Gas and have observed savings in gas.
  • We order all of our seafood from North Star Seafood, which is a company that promotes sustainability with marine life.
  • In every villa (total of 159) we have GE energy Star appliances, low flow shower heads, faucets and dual flush toilets.
  • Our resort is 100% smoke free, and we also participate in single stream recycling (bins in every villa, recycling receptacles on every floor, and a cardboard only dumpster separate from our recycling dumpster)
  • Added protected windscreens to Reflections (the resort’s restaurant) and The MarketPlace Bistro, which is used during turtle season to decrease the amount of sound and light to the beach in efforts for sea turtle protection. These windscreens also assist in creating additional shade areas, eliminating the needs for electric fans.
  • Work directly with Ecolab, American Pools, and Leslie Pools to ensure proper filtration and chemical usage for our pools and fountains.
  • Engage Ecolab for professional pest extermination; we are proactive in our approach to eliminate pests from our resort using eco-friendly products
  • Installed an Energy Management System (Control Green) which activates the air condition while guests are in the room. The system uses infrared technology to determine the villa is vacant and will then increase the temperature to conserve energy. The system also detects when a balcony door is open and will pause the air conditioning until the balcony door is secure again.

As you can see, Marriott’s Oceana Palms does a lot to conserve and protect sea turtles and the eco system.  We educate our associates, owners, and guests, and also have processes in place to ensure we are providing the correct habitat the sea turtles require to nest.  We also donate to various local charities and do our best to give back to our community.  We have inspired a culture at Marriott’s Oceana Palms that is more than serving our owners and guests; it’s about caring for the environment, our community and doing everything possible to enrich the lives around us.

Palm Beach County Parks & Recreation


2700 6th Avenue South, Lake Worth, Florida 33461

I am nominating Palm Beach County Parks and Recreation (PBC Parks) for Blue Business of the year for their long standing multi-faceted approach to promoting (and protecting) Palm Beach County’s beautiful environmental spaces and their immediate support of LMC’s new Balloon Ban.  PBC Parks houses many unique recreational and cultural facilities (like Loggerhead Marinelife Center in Loggerhead Park, Phil Foster Park (one of Palm Beach County’s most accessible and biodiverse scuba and snorkeling trails), and the Juno Beach Pier (operated by Loggerhead Marinelife Center).

In addition to park-spaces, PBC parks hosts multiple events which are tailored to help promote protection and education for the environment events include:

• Beach Cleanups
• Educational sessions for guests of all ages
• Coastal Conservation Concert (C3): A community event celebrating coastal habitats and conservation
• LMC Balloon Ban – tested and launched in Loggerhead Park (see below)

This year in partnership with Loggerhead Marinelife Center, Palm Beach County Parks and Recreation approved the 1st ‘test’ deployment of LMC’s balloon ban in Loggerhead Park.  This successful partnership between Parks and LMC was responsible for eliminating balloons from Loggerhead Park’s rental pavilions which are adjacent to one of the most important sea turtle nesting beaches on our planet.  In addition Loggerhead Park is also a hot-spot for birders.  Sea turtles and birds are often the unintended target of balloons and these animals can frequently become entangled in balloons and or mistake them for food, ingesting the balloons which frequently leads to the animal’s death.

Because of Palm Beach County Park’s approval of this test case, LMC and PBC Parks gained a tremendous amount of media for our test case which resulted in the balloon ban being adopted by twelve (12) municipalities.  More information on this program is available here: https://marinelife.org/four-south-florida-counties-now-implementing-balloon-ban/

Palm Beach County’s park system offers the widest possible range of leisure opportunities. Over 8,000 acres of parkland are available to discover. Sports, fitness, environmental, and cultural opportunities abound, as well as restful places for solitude.

From the “Mission” and “Vision” section of their website:

Our Mission: We make the quality of life for Palm Beach County residents and visitors better by providing diverse, safe and affordable recreation services, welcoming parks, and enriching social and cultural experiences. We achieve this by promoting wellness, fostering environmental stewardship, contributing economic value, and by improving our community every day for this and future generations.

Our Vision
To be a nationally recognized parks and recreation leader that connects people and parks by:
– Engaging all members of our diverse community,
– Ensuring safe, functional and innovative amenities now and in the future,
– Continually developing professional, well trained staff that mirrors our community,
– Being the premier outdoor recreation destination in South Florida,
– Forming strategic relationships to ensure local access to green space,
– Exceeding the national average of park land per capita, and
– Advancing services through the incorporation of new technologies

Saltwater Brewing

1701 West Atlantic Avenue, Delray Beach, FL 33444

I am nominating Saltwater Brewery for Blue Business of the year.  Saltwater Brewery is a Palm Beach County based brewery who has a very rich focus on community collaborations and support with a specific focus of their corporate mission about ocean conservation.

From the “Mission” section of their website: Our goal is to maintain the world’s greatest wonder by giving back to the ocean through Ocean Based Charities (CCA, Surfrider, Ocean Foundation, MOTE).

In addition to supporting great marine-related organizations, Salt Water noticed a significant problem in their industry, noting that most plastic beverage six‐pack rings end up in our oceans and pose a serious threat to wildlife.

Together with an organization called Webelievers, Saltwater Brewery ideated, designed, tested and prototyped the first ever Edible Six Pack Rings. A six‐pack packaging, made with byproducts of the beer making process, that instead of killing animals, feeds them. They are also 100% biodegradable and compostable.

The edible six pack campaign garnered local, national, and even international attention which was great for Saltwater Brewery but even better for our ocean and our marine life!  Impressions on YouTube are nearly 500,000 and Saltwater Brewery had hundreds of traditional and digital media articles written about their innovative product and innovative corporate culture designed to give back and protect the ocean and marine life.

Please view the YouTube video overviewing the innovative 6-pack-rings please watch the video at this link on YouTube:

The video is also available at Saltwater Brewery’s website:

Bahamas National Trust

The Bahamas National Trust exemplifies outstanding contributions towards promoting and encouraging conservation, restoration, or preservation of marine life and/ or marine ecosystems through their business practices. This organization extends its’ reach through multiple parks located in Abaco, Andros, Conception Island, Crooked Island, and Eleuthera. Through the implementation of science projects The Bahamas National Trust has produced a positive impact on marine conservation. The Bahamas National Trust addresses marine conservation through their Rapid Ecological Assessments (REAs), Reverse the Decline (RTD) project, Conchservation campaign, GIS unit, and National Park Research Projects. The execution of REAs helps with park planning, management activities, identification of new areas to protect, and gives the organization a more detailed understanding of the habitats health status and species of concern.

While REAs address the overall assessment of various habitats, the RTD focuses on one specific marine conservation issue – coral. This project is aimed at reversing the decline of key reef building coral species in The Bahamas. Reversing the decline of key reef building coral species is essential to sustaining fish populations. According to the World Resources Institute, “properly managed coral reefs can yield an average of 15 tons of fish and other seafood per square kilometer each year” (WRI). The RTD seeks to protect key coral reef building species, such as the branching Elkhorn and Staghorn corals. In addition, the RTD is a long-term project that aims to promote research, conservation, policy and education.

The conservation mindset of The Bahamas National Trust extends through to the organizations’ corporate culture. Within the organization, The Bahamas National Trust has an active Wildlife Committee. This committee is comprised of staff who provides assistance to other specialty marine life groups. One of these specialty groups is the New Providence Bird Club, formerly known as the Ornithology Group), which has been an active group since 1994.

In addition to helping other organizations and groups flourish, The Bahamas National Trust promotes education of marine conservation through internships, certification programs, citizen science projects, an eco-tour guide training program, and volunteer opportunities. In 2015 more than 12,000 students participated in The Bahamas National Trust’s Outdoor Environmental Classroom. Education Director Portia Sweeting has said that these outdoor classroom experiences “are designed to connect students to the parks and complement the Ministry of Education’s science and Social studies curricula by acting as outdoor classrooms” (The Bahamas National Trust). Recently, the organization has expanded these classroom experiences to include a demonstration on reusing discarded materials to produce higher value items. Through all of these programs and initiatives, The Bahamas National Trust facilitates a culture of ocean and marine conservation.

Additionally, The Science and Policy Department of The Bahamas National Trust pursues conservation and improvement of marine life by disseminating scientific information through conferences, publications, and training. With a variety of projects, policies, committees, programs, and volunteer opportunities The Bahamas National Trust increases ocean conservation on a local, national, and global scale.

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