The 2023 Valerie Taylor Ocean Prizes include scientific action for ocean protection

The 2023 Valerie Taylor Ocean Prizes hosted by Blue World were announced during National Science Week 2023 at a special night at the Australian National Maritime Museum. Valerie Taylor was there in person and delighted the audience with her stories, inspiring everyone in the room with her passion and commitment to saving our oceans.

Valerie Taylor, AM in conversation with Inspiring Australia NSW Committee Chair, Emily Jateff

Blue World has a mission is to catalyse positive change for a clean and thriving ocean. This year they supported 12 projects across NSW with a prize pool of $30,000, many of them locally based community groups dedicated to protecting local areas. The prize encourages projects that use scientific, creative and community action for ocean protection.

Merran Hughes, CEO of Blue World said, “Many people think ocean protection is a great principle. But finding the will to protect specific areas and support local species, like the critically endangered grey nurse shark and the White’s seahorse is complicated.

“Only 2% of Sydney’s waters have full sanctuary protection, and none in the eastern suburbs of Sydney. So, we are thrilled to support these awesome projects, that will help our communities understand the wonderful marine life that is being lost, and what work needs to be done, to keep our ocean resilient and healthy.”

Feature image: Merran Hughes, Blue World and Emma Pask, Blue World Ambassador, event emcees and hosts.

Congratulations to all the 2023 Valerie Taylor Prize recipients.

Community Action

Bioluminescence Project 
An arts and engagement project at Tathra Wharf that documents and celebrates the incredible marine diversity of the region. Inspiring NSW has supported this project since its inception in 2022, and we are delighted to see how the locals have embraced the grass-roots and community led project and it continues to grow.

Orrca Cetacean Rescue and Rehabilitation
Orrca is a whale, dolphin, seal and dugong rescue and research non-profit organisation based in Sutherland NSW, and the only volunteer wildlife rehabilitation group in the state licensed to be involved with marine mammal rescue, rehabilitation and release. The funds will go to an equipment upgrade project.

Hunter Community Environment Centre
Hunter Community Environment Centre was established in 2004 to encourage and facilitate environmental and social justice advocacy and education in the Hunter region, NSW.  Their funding is for an Offshore Wind community reference group.

So Shire 
SO Shire is a community driven network of individuals, businesses and organisations all working together for a sustainable Shire that will fuse together the local economy with the protection of the ocean and environment. They received funding for a marine biodiversity of Southern Sydney project.

Friends of Bongin Bongin Bay
The Friends of Bongin Bongin Bay are a group of locals who are leading a campaign to have Mona Vale’s Bongin Bongin Bay (Mona Vale Basin) declared as an aquatic reserve.  They received funding towards their ‘no-take’ aquatic reserve campaign.

Nature Coast Marine Group
The Nature Coast Marine Group is a community organisation established to protect the marine environment in the Eurobodalla area on the NSW south coast. They received the prize for their Nature Coast Marine Monthly Tidie Cleanups and other projects.

Friends of Parsley Bay
A community group based at Parsley Bay on Sydney Harbour were awarded funds for an Aboriginal heritage report for both land and sea country at Parsley Bay.

Scientific Action

Grey Nurse Shark Harmonisation Census
This important citizen science project get divers along the East Coast to take a snap shot of how many grey nurse sharks are at the known aggregation sites on four set days of the year day.  Funds will go underwater photographer Duncan Heuer for a website and comms project.

Weedy Seadragons Census
Professor David Booth’s Fish Ecology lab at UTS has been studying population ecology of weedy seadragons in SE Australia since 2002.   How many weedy seadragons are there in Sydney? Funds will towards a local citizen science seadragon census and engagement project.

Artistic action

Eric Lobbeke

A creative visual documentation for the Ocean Lovers’ Festival.

Sydney Rock Oyster Performances

Dr Sarah Jane Moore with Michael Galeazzi.