Blue Ocean Institute



Blue Ocean Fellows

We’ve created a Fellows Program to bring new people with established reputations and recognized voices into the Blue Ocean ark. Blue Ocean Fellows are accomplished and innovative authors, artists, conservationists and scientists. They develop and articulate ideas that advance a much larger, and deeper, conservation discussion.

“Blue Ocean Fellows help boost our ability to be a thought-leading group, small in size and big in influence,” says Institute founder, Carl Safina.

Working independently but inter-dependently as well, Blue Ocean Fellows create articles, opinion pieces, blogs, videos, workshops and other materials, greatly expanding our reach. Each Fellow is chosen based on his/her reputation and proven abilities to reach specific, key audiences. 

Our four Blue Ocean Fellows are author and essayist Paul Greenberg,  shark experts Dr. Demian Chapman and Debra Abercrombie and author, photographer and filmmaker, John Weller. 

Author, Paul Greenberg. Photo by Laura Strauss.

Photo by Laura Strauss.

Paul Greenberg is the author of the James Beard Award-winning, New York Times bestseller Four Fish: The Future of the Last Wild Food and other books. Greenberg is a regular contributor to the New York Times MagazineNew York Times Sunday Book Review and the New York Times Opinion page. He has also written for National GeographicGQThe Times of LondonVogueAmerican Prospect and The Atlantic, among many others. In the last five years, he has been both a National Endowment for the Arts Literature Fellow and a W. K. Kellogg Foundation Food and Society Policy Fellow. In 2012 Greenberg won the Grantham Prize – Award of Special Merit and has just been named a 2014 Pew Fellow in marine conservation.

Just as Michael Pollan helped readers navigate the complicated politics of land food, Greenberg has been a major force in decoding the politics of seafood. All the while his accessible and entertaining style has allowed him to extend his reach to publications and news outlets that normally eschew coverage of the ocean. His articles and op-eds as a Blue Ocean Fellow have covered topics ranging from oyster beds as storm protection to Alaska’s Pebble Mine and protecting ocean canyons from oil and gas exploration.

Greenberg’s new book, American Catch is about how we lost and how we might regain American local seafood. American Catch is due to be released by Penguin Press in June, 2014.

Greenberg lectures widely on issues of ocean sustainability at diverse venues around the world. His book, Four Fish, has been translated into Spanish, Italian, German, Japanese, Mandarin and Korean, and is soon to be published in Greek and Russian.

Dr. Demian Chapman takes a DNA sample from a nearly 15-foot blunt nose, six-gill shark in the Bahamas. Photo by Sean Williams, Cape Eleuthera Institute.

Dr. Demian Chapman takes a DNA sample from a nearly 15-foot blunt nose, six-gill shark in the Bahamas. Photo by Sean Williams, Cape Eleuthera Institute.

Dr. Demian Chapman is a research scientist, shark geneticist and assistant professor at Stony Brook University (SBU.) Dr. Chapman’s research expertise lies in molecular biology and telemetry tracking, which he integrates to address research questions related to the dispersal and reproduction of sharks and rays. He is particularly interested in how shark reproduction and movements impact population dynamics, population genetic diversity and geographic population structure and their implications for conservation.

Chapman is an accomplished researcher and an emerging leader in the field of shark conservation. He and shark biologist Debra Abercrombie (see bio below) are both outstanding communicators working across scientific disciplines and at the interface between science and policy. Chapman’s specialty is molecular biology and wildlife forensics. He and Debra Abercrombie have been at the forefront of developing tools and resources to aid in monitoring and regulating the global dried shark fin trade. Chapman is helping small, island nations strengthen their ability to identify illegal shark fishing and enforce recently established shark sanctuaries.

Chapman and Abercrombie developed a shark fin identification guide that is now being used worldwide in workshops for customs and wildlife inspectors  in charge of implementing new CITES regulations designed to protect 5 species of sharks from the global fin trade.

Dr. Chapman is the author of numerous peer-reviewed scientific research articles, and currently manages field research projects on sharks in Belize, the Bahamas, New Zealand and Florida. He has just been awarded a 2014 Pew Fellowship in marine conservation.  

Chapman runs the Molecular Ecology and Conservation Biology Laboratory at in the School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences (SoMAS) at Stony Brook University. Chapman’s DNA lab is located near Blue Ocean Institute offices  at SBU.

Debra Abercrombie tags, measures and takes samples from a female bull shark. This shark also has an implanted acoustic transmitter as part of a tracking project that began in 2009.

Debra Abercrombie tags, measures and takes DNA samples from a female bull shark. This shark also has an implanted acoustic transmitter as part of a tracking project that began in 2009. Photo by Demian Chapman.

Debra Abercrombie has worked closely with Dr. Chapman on several shark conservation initiatives. She is a professional marine biologist with over ten years’ experience working with sharks and shark fisheries. Debra also worked for the Pelagic Observer Program and as a Fishery Biologist for the Highly Migratory Species (HMS) Logbook Program, both at the Southeast Fisheries Science Center (NOAA/NMFS/SEFSC) in Miami, FL. She has published peer-reviewed papers on the genetic identification of CITES listed and proposed shark species (white shark, hammerheads) and the global fin trade in leading journals such as Conservation Biology and Conservation Genetics. During the genetic testing of shark fins, Abercrombie was one of the discoverers of the fact that Chinese trade names for fins have high concordance with particular species, which implies that visual fin identification is possible. She also worked with the NOAA Office of Law Enforcement to genetically identify fins from prohibited shark species that were confiscated from commercial fishing operations in the Atlantic Ocean.

John with kids

John Weller surrounded by local kids in Raja Ampat, Indonesia. Photo by Sean Heinrich.

John Weller is a critically acclaimed photographer, writer and filmmaker whose work ranges from shark protection in Micronesia to Ross Sea (Antarctica) conservation. Weller has been a SeaWeb Fellow since 2005 and was named a Pew Fellow in Marine Conservation in 2009. His library of Ross Sea photographs has been used by conservation organizations all over the world, published in dozens of magazines and publications, including National Geographic; and showcased at the 2009 and 2011 Antarctic Treaty Consultative Meetings. Weller also produced a short film, which was a finalist in the 2010 Blue Ocean Festival. Weller works directly to promote marine protections around the world. An impassioned observer of nature, he has followed a path through the Colorado Desert to the waters of the Antarctic. He started The Last Ocean Project with Antarctic ecologist David Ainley in 2004, and has been working on Ross Sea conservation since. His latest book, The Last Ocean, was developed through close cooperation with scientists, policy-makers, and conservation organizations invested in the Ross Sea. Working closely with partner Shawn Heinrichs, Weller recently helped spearhead conservation campaigns in the Bahamas, Micronesia, and in Raja Ampat Indonesia.

Blue Ocean Fellows – Publications

Highlights of Blue Ocean Fellows’ work includes: Paul Greenberg: “An Oyster in the Storm” – The New York Times. Greenberg & Safina: “An Improvable Feast” - The New York Times. “Ends of the Earth” - Sunday Book Review, The New York Times. “Don’t Discount Smart Fish Farming” - A New York Times “Room for Debate.” “As Final U.S. […]
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