Chairman's Dinner 2018: "Creatures in the ocean don't have a choice. We do."

That was just one of the insights offered by Dr. Sylvia A. Earle as she accepted the Seattle Aquarium’s first-ever Lifetime Achievement Award at our Chairman’s Dinner on January 25. This annual event honors community and scientific leaders who have worked to preserve and protect marine environments both locally and around the world.

Dr. Sylvia A. Earle

In 2007, the Aquarium presented Dr. Earle with the Seattle Aquarium Medal, which is presented each year to an individual whose leadership and lifetime accomplishments reflect the Aquarium’s mission. She was selected for her pioneering research, writing and exploration that helped increase understanding of the ocean and make its protection an international priority—work that she continues to do as the ocean’s most visible proponent.

Recognized by the Library of Congress as a “Living Legend,” Dr. Earle is chairman of deep ocean exploration and research and an explorer-in-residence at the National Geographic Society. She has led more than 60 research expeditions worldwide, involving in excess of 7,000 hours underwater, and is founder of the Sylvia Earle Alliance (S.E.A.)/Mission Blue, founder of Deep Ocean Exploration and Research Inc. (DOER), chair of the advisory council for the Harte Research Institute and former chief scientist of NOAA.

This year, the Seattle Aquarium Medal was replaced by the inaugural Lifetime Achievement Award—and, upon presenting it to Dr. Earle, Aquarium President & CEO Robert W. Davidson also announced that the Medal is being renamed. It will henceforth be known as the Seattle Aquarium Sylvia Earle Medal. The first award under the new name will be given at our 2019 Chairman’s Dinner.

Lifetime Achievement Award


Seattle Aquarium Conservation Research Award

Megan N. Dethier, Ph.D., a research professor in the biology department at the University of Washington who is in full-time residence at the Friday Harbor Laboratories, received the Seattle Aquarium Conservation Research Award, which honors individuals performing leadership research in the field.

Since the late 1970s, Dr. Dethier has been working on the shoreline ecology of the Pacific Northwest. She designed a marine habitat classification system for Washington state, and has worked with the National Park Service and various Washington agencies designing shoreline mapping and monitoring programs. Her current research efforts are mostly focused in Puget Sound, investigating the linkage between physical features of shoreline habitats and their biota, and the effects of human impacts (such as shoreline armoring) on this linkage.

Scott S. Patrick Inspirational Award

President & CEO Davidson presented longtime board member George Willoughby with the Scott S. Patrick Inspirational Award. Named for the late Aquarium board member and Seattle Seahawks executive who served with extraordinary passion, the award annually recognizes the Seattle Aquarium board member whose service best exemplifies the passion, leadership and enthusiasm which characterized Scott Patrick’s life and board service.

Scott S. Patrick Inspirational Award
Pictured from left to right: Jim Wharton, director of conservation and education; Robert W. Davidson, president and CEO; Dr. Sylvia A. Earle, Lifetime Achievement Award winner; Bob Donegan, board chair;  George Willoughby, Scott S. Patrick Inspirational Award winner; Dr. Megan N. Dethier, Seattle Aquarium Conservation Research Award winner.


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