Orcasound wins 2020 Environmental Excellence award from the Port of Seattle

Today during a remote-only meeting of the Port Commissioners, the Port of Seattle’s 2020 Marine Environmental Excellence awards were announced. Elizabeth Leavitt, the Port’s Senior Director of Engineering, Environment and Sustainability, explained that the awards celebrate the dedication of local business partners in 2019 to promoting health communities, improving environmental outcomes, and enhancing energy efficiency. The minutes from the meeting (9/22) allow you to view her presentation (start at 46:13), as well the slides and associated memo.

Orcasound (see our logo on the left!) had the honor of being applauded publicly for excellence in Environmental Education andĀ Outreach for the cooperative efforts of our 13 NGO members — most of which are small businesses based in Washington: non-profits, social purpose corporations, and other small companies. Let’s have a virtual round of applause for all the organizations that have made this recognition possible through some 15 years of cooperation, volunteerism, education, and outreach:

Beam Reach 
Colorado College Physics and Environmental Science Departments
Orca Network 
Port Townsend Marine Science Center 
Orca Behavior Institute 
Cetacean Research Technology 
Whale Scout 
Deep Green Wilderness
Oceans Initiative
Friends of Lime Kiln Society (FOLKS)
The Whale Trail
The Center for Whale Research 
Pacific Mammal Research

We were one of just 12 organizations that were selected out of hundreds that did business or otherwise partnered with the Port last year, and 1 of just 3 selected out of 8 maritime nominations. We were highlighted for compiling hydrophone data that advance understanding of the impacts of underwater noise on Southern Resident Killer Whales and for developing new technologies to share orca sounds with the public and help them learn about orcas and act to conserve them.

Since 2010, the annual awards have been presented in-person and as part of celebrating Earth Day (April 22). Of course, this year has been exceptional with the pandemic making such special events impossible. That didn’t stop Port staff from finding ways to make the virtual meeting special. Prior the meeting, they sent framed certificates to each recipient and asked a representative to take a photo “receiving” the award. It was fun to see all of the photos during the presentation, but I found myself wishing that we could all be together to proudly share the occasion. We should all be in this photo together:

Orcasound coordinator Scott Veirs, receiving the award as President of Beam Reach (a social purpose corporation based in Seattle). Val Veirs of Beam Reach, host of the Orcasound Lab hydrophone node will be next. Then we’ll work our way through the San Juans back towards Seattle!

So, as part of re-connecting and deriving a new Orcasound Memorandum of Agreement for 2021-2025, I’ll do my best this fall/winter to get the certificate safely to each organization so everyone can snap a Covid-compliant photo and we can build a virtual gallery of all the hard-working orca conservationists who help keep the Orcasound hydrophone network running smoothly and with maximum innovation — not only the hydrophone systems but also our extensive educational/outreach infrastructure.

I’ll end by saying that a fair fraction of this award also goes to the many volunteers who helped Orcasound make progress in 2019. Please take a look at the Orcasound Hacker Hall of Fame and applaud their efforts today, too!

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