Asha de Vos Named 2020 Sea Hero of the Year

2020-12-02 at 09:34

Sri Lankan Marine Scientist Asha De Vos, recognized around the globe for her work on Sri Lanka’s resident blue whales, has been named Scuba Diving’s 2020 Sea Hero of the Year.

De Vos and her Oceanswell foundation will use her $5,000 award to run a three-day residential field course in marine conservation for students who might otherwise never have the opportunity to experience the marine environment in person.

De Vos also will establish a one-year mentorship program through which she will work with two Sri Lankan marine biology or marine education students for a year, meeting with them monthly to track progress and work through issues they face.

“Every coastline needs a local hero,” says De Vos, “someone who can identify issues that need resolving, understands the local context and can come up with solutions that are relevant and workable. The field course is a way for me to teach students about the ocean in a fun and interactive way—give them opportunities that do not otherwise exist within the country, and hopefully get more people into the field.

“I had to learn from trial and error because of a lack of mentorship,” she adds, determined that her program will “help fast-track students’ careers and provide them with the kind of guidance that can help them stay in the field.”

“In the end, I hope the field course and the mentorship program inspire more students to enter and remain in the field of marine conservation in Sri Lanka.’’