Nainoa Thompson Honored at 2015 Peter Benchley Ocean Awards
Washington, D.C. – Nainoa Thompson was honored at the 2015 Peter Benchley Ocean Awards ceremony yesterday alongside Prince Albert II of Monaco and other awardees at the Carnegie Institution for Science in Washington DC. President of the Polynesian Voyaging Society and captain of the legendary voyaging canoe Hōkūleʻa, Thompson was recognized for Excellence in Exploration.
“I am honored to accept this award on behalf of my teachers who came from some of the greatest explorers our Earth has ever seen,” said Nainoa Thompson, president of PVS. “Their resolve and solution-focused perspective is what drives our Worldwide Voyage on Hōkūleʻa today. Our destination is navigating to a place where we see better protection of our oceans through collaboration with people and entities epitomized by the Benchley Awards and their partners.”
These awards–the world’s preeminent ocean honors–are named after lifelong marine conservationist Peter Benchley. The awards program was co-founded by Wendy Benchley, an ocean conservation and policy advocate, and David Helvarg, author and executive director of Blue Frontier. Often referred to as the “Academy Awards” for the ocean, the Benchley Awards recognize excellence across a range of expertise, including national leadership, policy, science, media, youth and grassroots activism.
Thompson was honored for his contributions to marine conservation and exploration as the first Hawaiian in seven centuries to practice the ancient Polynesian art of non-instrument navigation known as “wayfinding”. United States Senator Brian Schatz, who is a powerful voice for marine protection, presented the award to Thompson.
“I can think of no one more deserving of the Award for Excellence in Exploration than Nainoa. Decades ago, Nainoa found the deep seeded strength and beauty of discovery. He worked it, collaborated with others, and actualized it. What’s remarkable is that the energy of this vision grew from a Hawaiian vision, to a Pacific Islands vision and now to a global vision. His life’s work, the Hōkūle‘a, has become a symbol and a tribute to the art of voyaging and the enduring Native Hawaiian culture,” the senator stated.
“As he mentioned, it’s really an honor to all the people of Hawaiʻi, [and] the thousands of volunteers that have made Hōkūleʻa and her many voyages happen.”