Water. It is vast and home to millions of species, some close to extinction and others yet to be discovered. It covers 71 per cent of the earth’s surface and is essential to the survival of all living creatures.

Over the past 18 years, the Murray A. Newman Award has been bestowed on researchers and conservationists dedicated to the education and preservation of North American aquatic ecosystems.

Awarded by the Vancouver Aquarium Marine Science Centre, the “Murrays” are awarded annually to two British Columbia-based recipients, one for significant advances in aquatic research and the other for significant achievement in aquatic conservation. Created in 1995, the award pays tribute the Vancouver Aquarium’s founding director, Murray A. Newman.

Dr. Newman was a professor of fisheries and oceanography at the University of British Columbia before opening the aquarium in 1956. Dr. Newman’s vision was that the Aquarium’s displays and programs be based on the best and newest scientific information.

Last year, Dr. Peter Ross received a Murray Award for his research on marine mammal ecotoxicology. Dr. Ross’ work documented the high levels of PCBs, a contaminant often found in coolants, and other toxins found in the tissue of west coast killer whales.

Chef Robert Clark was also honoured with a Murray Award for raising awareness of sustainable seafood. Chef Clark is a founding chef partner and ambassador of the Vancouver Aquarium’s Ocean WiseTM program. Since its inception, over 500 restaurants, market and food-service outlets have joined the program to help address overfishing, the single biggest issue facing our oceans today.

If you know someone who has made similar contributions to aquatic ecosystems, let us give them a big “Thank You” by nominating them for a Newman A. Murray Award. Nominations can be addressed to Meghan.Moore@vanaqua.org and must be received by Monday, October 21, 2013. Award winners are invited to a recognition event at the Vancouver Aquarium and will be provided an honorarium for their conservation contributions.

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