The International SeaKeepers Society will be hosting SeaKeepers Bermuda 2017 to recognise the 2017 SeaKeeper of the Year, Wendy Schmidt, and the SeaKeepers of Bermuda, Judie Clee, Chris Flook, Philippe Max Rouja, and John Paul Skinner. At the event, which will take place in Bermuda on June 22nd during America’s Cup, programming with the current DISCOVERY Yacht Fleet will be featured showing how the International SeaKeepers Society partners with the yachting community.
The DISCOVERY Yacht Chair of SeaKeepers Bermuda 2017 is Stefano Tositti and the Reception Sponsor is Ritz-Carlton Reserve Residences – Caroline Bay, Bermuda.
Wendy Schmidt is President of The Schmidt Family Foundation, where she works to advance the development of renewable energy and the wiser use of natural resources. The Foundation houses its grant-making operation in The 11th Hour Project, which supports more than 150 non-profit organisations around the world in program areas including renewable energy, ecological agriculture, human rights, and our maritime connection through its 11th Hour Racing program.
11th Hour Racing promotes sustainability in the sailing and maritime industries, and serves as the Exclusive Sustainability Partner for Land Rover BAR, the British team competing for the upcoming 35th America’s Cup in Bermuda. 11th Hour Racing also recently signed on as the co-title sponsor with Vestas Wind for the American team in the 2017-18 Volvo Ocean Race.
In 2009, Wendy Schmidt and her husband, Eric Schmidt, created the Schmidt Ocean Institute (SOI), and in 2012 launched the research vessel, Falkor, as a mobile platform to advance ocean exploration, discovery, and knowledge, and catalyze the sharing of information about the oceans. Since 2012, Falkor has hosted more than 400 scientists from 29 countries.
To further her commitment to ocean issues, in 2010 Wendy Schmidt partnered with XPRIZE, following the Deepwater Horizon disaster, to sponsor the Wendy Schmidt Oil Cleanup XCHALLENGE, a $1.4 million competition designed to identify efficient and innovative solutions to clean up surface oil spills. She also partnered with XPRIZE in 2012 to design the Wendy Schmidt Ocean Health XPRIZE, a $2 million purse, awarded in July 2015, which focused on ocean acidification, one of the harbingers of climate change.
Wendy Schmidt is the lead philanthropic partner of the New Plastics Economy Initiative (NPEC) and a founding board member of Climate Central.
The SeaKeepers of Bermuda Awardees
The SeaKeepers of Bermuda Awardees have been chosen because of their commitment to ocean research in Bermuda. Judie Clee has contributed much to our understanding of the oceans. She introduced the REEF program to Bermuda in 2000 and as Principal Investigator, has engaged hundreds of divers to survey fish on our reefs. Judie was named REEF Volunteer of the Year in 2005.
Judie has been an active volunteer for the Bermuda Zoological Society, Ocean Support Foundation, Bermuda’s Reef Ecosystem Assessment and Mapping Program, the Humpback Whale Project, the National Trust’s Marine Environment Committee, the Marine Debris Taskforce, BUEI and more. For the last ten years, Judie has helped curate the Bermuda Humpback Whale ID Catalogue consisting of over 1,400 individual whale IDs.
In 2007, Chris Flook started the Bermuda Lionfish Project; bringing together the Bermuda Government, REEF, NOAA and domestic NGOs to adopt policies and protocols. The Lionfish Project in Bermuda has since been used as a management model by several Caribbean Countries. The initiative continues today through the Ocean Support Foundation and Chris is a member of the Board. From 2011–2014 Chris was the Director of the Blue Halo project through the Pew Charitable Trust. Currently, Chris works at the Bermuda Institute of Ocean Sciences and is a founding member and sits on the Advisory Board ofRISE (Robots in Service of the Environment
Philippe Max Rouja is a cultural and medical anthropologist specialising in maritime communities, currently focusing his research on Polynesia, Australia, Bermuda and the Arctic. He is the Principal Scientist of Marine Heritage and Ocean Human Health at the Department of Conservation Services, where he oversees public health studies related to the use of marine resources in Bermuda and serves as Custodian of Historic Wrecks.
JP Skinner was born and raised in Bermuda where he developed a genuine passion for the ocean. He pursued a degree in anthropology at the University of California, San Diego, before returning home to teach for several years in a local primary school. A keen water-sports enthusiast and environmentalist, he eventually combined his interests in education and the outdoors by launching Waterstart Ltd., an ocean exploration program for teens. After several successful summers of marine education, JP began work at the Bermuda Institute of Ocean Sciences and began building a suite of outreach programs which included Waterstart as the summer focus. These programs eventually coalesced into BIOS’s “Ocean Academy” and reached thousands of local students each year.