Milestones & Firsts

Since 2003 we have used the power of scientific research, expeditions, social and traditional media and a television series on PBS to share our message with the world. Here’s a list of key awards, publications, honors and “firsts,” since our founding over a decade ago.


  • Carl Safina is named one of “the great American preservation writers” in a Washington Post op-ed by writer Kim Heacox.
  • Carl Safina wins the Italian Merck Prize for literature.
  • Safina Center Fellow Paul Greenberg publishes his third book, The Omega Principle: Seafood and the Quest for a Long Life and a Healthier Planet on July 10, 2018.
  • Safina Center Fellow Robin Huffman’s painting “Ayla” is one of 173 out of 1,200 entries selected for showing in the David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation’s Wildlife Artist of the Year Exhibit in the U.K.
  • Carl Safina’s TED Talk, “What are animals thinking and feeling?”–based on his book Beyond Words– has been viewed 2.1 million times since it was released online in October 2015.
  • Carl Safina is named a finalist for the Indianapolis Prize for Wildlife Conservation.
  • Carl Safina’s writing is referenced in a question on the American game show Jeopardy!


  • The Safina Center establishes the Safina Center “Kalpana Chawla ‘Launchpad’ Fellowship” to honor the memory of the late astronaut Kalpana Chawla. The inaugural Safina Center “Kalpana Chawla ‘Launchpad’ Fellowship” is awarded to science writer and artist Erica Cirino and humanitarian and conservationist Kate Thompson.
  • Safina Center “Kalpana Chawla ‘Launchpad’ Fellow” Erica Cirino wins CUNY Resilience Fellowship for science journalists.
  • Safina Center Creative Affiliate Lori Marino establishes The Whale Sanctuary Project and Carl Safina joins its board.
  • Safina Center Fellow Ben Mirin gives a TED Talk at the TEDNYC Idea Search 2017.
  • Safina Center Fellow and Writer in Residence Paul Greenberg’s PBS Frontline documentary “The Fish on My Plate” premiers online and on television to millions of viewers.
  • Safina Center Fellow Chris Jordan’s film “Albatross” premiers at the Telluride Film Festival.
  • Safina Center Fellows Shawn Heinrichs and John Weller help establish a new Marine Protected Area in Raja Ampat, Indonesia.


  • Safina Center Fellow John Weller contributes to the protection of the Ross Sea in the Antarctic Ocean, which is the world’s largest Marine Protected Area.
  • Beyond Words is released in paperback on July 12, 2016, and it is commissioned for translation in 11 languages. It hits #8 on The New York Times Best Sellers List in the “Animals” category.
  • “What are animals thinking and feeling,” Carl Safina’s TED Talk based on Beyond Words, is viewed more than 1,770,000 times.
  • The Safina Center welcomes two new Fellows: writer and photographer Hob Osterlund, and DJ and sound artist Ben Mirin.
  • Safina Center Fellow Hob Osterlund releases her first book, a memoir, titled Holy Moli: Albatross and Other Ancestors, on May 5, 2016.
  • Safina Center Fellow Ben Mirin earns new titles: National Geographic Expeditions Council Grantee, Natural Sounds Recordist at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Artist in Residence at the Wildlife Conservation Society at the Bronx Zoo and Member of The Explorer’s Club.
  • Safina Center Fellow Paul Greenberg is renamed as the Center’s “Writer in Residence.”
  • Paul Greenberg wraps up writing his coming book, The Omega Principle, and finishes filming a related Frontline documentary.
  • Safina Center Fellow Shawn Heinrichs helps film and coordinate the first-ever televised public service campaign to reduce the consumption of shark fin soup in China.
  • Safina Center Fellow Ellen Prager ends her fellowship on a high note with the release of the third book in her Tristan Hunt and the Sea Guardians series, Stingray City, on May 1, 2016.
  • The Safina Center moves to its new home, a historic barn in Setauket, N.Y.


  • Carl Safina’s seventh book, Beyond Words; What Animals Think and Feel, released to rave reviews July 14, 2015. It is #2 on The New York Times Best Sellers List, “Animals” category, and #1 in Amazon’s Best, “Animals and Cognition” and “Animal Behavior” categories.
  • Excerpts and interviews from Carl Safina’s Beyond Words appear on PBS, NPR, The New York Times and in dozens of online magazines from TIME to National Geographic.
  • Safina Center Fellow, John Weller and his partner Shawn Heinrichs complete their film Guardians of Raja Ampat (Indonesia) and show it on a grand outdoor screen in 12 key villages—a huge success.
  • Safina Center Fellow Dr. Ellen Prager’s new book, The Shark Rider, is released in May—it is the second book in her fiction series for middle grades, Tristan Hunt and the Sea Guardians. Great reviews and reader reaction.
  • Author and Safina Center Fellow Paul Greenberg’s best-selling book, American Catch: The Fight For Our Local Seafood, is released in paperback in June.
  • American Catch is named a finalist for the Investigative Reporters and Editors Book Award.
  • Safina Center Fellows, Dr. Demian Chapman and Debra Abercrombie complete many Shark Fin ID Workshops in countries around the world including Hong Kong, Mainland China, India and South Africa.
  • Carl Safina teaches new course, “Conservation’s Three Rs: Reading, Writing, Raising Money” at Stony Brook University’s School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences.
  • Carl Safina, Senator Edward Markey, offshore drilling experts and scientists hold press conference in Washington DC to address lingering effects of the 2010 BP oil disaster.
  • Paul Greenberg’s American Catch Project completed many workshops in fishing communities around the U.S. (with additional funding from the Walton Family Foundation).
  • Carl Safina nominated for the 2016 Indianapolis Prize.
  • The Safina Center is nominated for Edible Long Island’s “Local Hero” Award in the nonprofit/advocate category.
  • Carl Safina’s book Beyond Words is nominated for Carnegie Medal of Excellence, 2016.


  • Blue Ocean Institute changes its name to The Safina Center.
  • Carl Safina announced as a finalist for the 2014 Indianapolis Prize.
  • Safina Center Fellow Paul Greenberg publishes his second book American Catch: The Fight For Our Local Seafood, to critical acclaim.
  • The Safina Center and Monterey Bay Aquarium expand their partnership and collaborate on sustainable seafood ratings creating consistency for Whole Foods Markets nationwide.
  • The Safina Center logo is now included in seafood counter signage in 370 Whole Foods Market stores in the US and Canada.
  • Safina Center Fellows, Paul Greenberg and Demian Chapman are both named Pew Fellows in Marine Conservation.
  • The Safina Center welcomes two new Fellows: writer, photographer and filmmaker John Weller, and marine scientist and author Dr. Ellen Prager.
  • Safina Center Fellow, Dr. Ellen Prager publishes The Shark Whisperer, her first book in a new fiction series for middle grades, Tristan Hunt and the Sea Guardians.
  • Safina Center Fellows, Demian Chapman and Debra Abercrombie completed Shark Fin ID Workshops in many countries around the world including Fiji, South Africa and Hong Kong.
  • The Safina Center helps orchestrate Stony Brook University’s first ever Earth Day “Tweet-Up” honoring 3 Indianapolis Prize finalists (and SBU professors) Carl Safina, Russ Mittermeier and Patricia Wright.
  • Safina Center Fellow, John Weller and his partner Shawn Heinrichs complete their film “Guardians of Raja Ampat,” to inspire community-driven conservation in Indonesia.


  • Blue Ocean Institute celebrates its 10th Anniversary.
  • First full series of Saving the Ocean with Carl Safina broadcast on PBS to 90 million households in the U.S. and Canada.
  • Carl Safina nominated for the 2014 Indianapolis Prize.
  • Carl Safina is lead scientist on the GYRE expedition to the southwest coast of Alaska and Aleutian Islands.
  • National Geographic premieres documentary video of Carl Safina’s GYRE expedition.
  • Over a quarter of a million visits to Blue Ocean Institute’s new website this year.
  • Stony Brook University establishes the Carl Safina Endowed Research Professorship for Nature and Humanity, Long Island, NY.
  • Carl Safina interviewed by Alan Alda at Stony Brook Southampton. (Safina is co-chair of the Alan Alda Center for Communicating Science.)
  • Carl Safina receives an Honorary Doctorate from Drexel University.
  • Carl Safina is awarded the Inaugural Andrew W. Mellon Distinguished Fellow in Environmental Studies by Colby College.
  • Rutgers University presents Carl Safina with a Distinguished Alumni Award in Biology.
  • Carl Safina wrote the foreword for “The Last Ocean, Antarctica’s Ross Sea Project” by John Weller, published by Rizzoli.
  • Blue Ocean Institute Fellows, Demian Chapman & Debra Abercrombie hold Shark Fin Identification Workshops in Honduras, Belize, Costa Rica, Senegal, Sri Lanka, Hong Kong, USA, Thailand, United Arab Emirates, Yemen, Egypt, Oman, Brazil and Fiji.
  • Blue Ocean Institute is recognized by Intelligent Philanthropy for our commitment to transparency.


  • Blue Ocean Institute’s partnership with Whole Foods Market, plus media attention, help save harbor porpoises in New England waters.
  • Blue Ocean Institute Fellows Program launched in November. First Fellows: author Paul Greenberg and shark experts, Dr. Demian Chapman and Debra Abercrombie.
  • Carl Safina’s book The View from Lazy Point, A Natural Year in an Unnatural World wins 2012 Orion Magazine Book Award.
  • Six new episodes of “Saving the Ocean with Carl Safina” filmed to complete first year of the PBS series. Episodes premiere in October, 2012.
  • “The Sacred Island,” episode of “Saving the Ocean with Carl Safina” PBS series named finalist at the BLUE Ocean Film Festival, “Innovations and Solutions” category.
  • Carl Safina begins blogging for Huffington Post and National Geographic.
  • Blue Ocean Institute moves to Stony Brook University’s School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences.
  • Blue Ocean Institute launches new and expanded website.
  • Blue Ocean Institute releases comprehensive overview, “MERCURY: Sources in the Environment, Health Effects and Politics,” written by Sharon Guynup; intro and summary by Carl Safina.
  • Carl Safina’s book A Sea in Flames: The Deepwater Horizon Oil Blowout named to Top Ten List by the Project on Government Oversight.
  • Carl Safina receives Ocean Hero Award from Diver magazine.
  • Blue Ocean Institute research scientists Alan Duckworth and J.I. Peterson’s “Effects of seawater temperature and pH on the boring rates of the sponge Cliona celata in scallop shells” published in September issue of Marine Biology.
  • Carl Safina selected as “Long Island’s Man of the Year in Science” by the Times Beacon Record.


  • Carl Safina’s fifth book –The View from Lazy Point; A Natural Year in an Unnatural World – published in January.
  • Carl Safina profiled in the The New York Times.
  • Carl Safina’s sixth book – A Sea in Flames; The Deepwater Horizon Oil Blowout – published in April.
  • Carl Safina’s fifth and sixth books selected as The New York Times Book Review “Editor’s Choice.”
  • Carl Safina is interviewed on PBS, NPR, in magazines from TIME to Rolling Stone, and on dozens of other stations about his books The View from Lazy Point and A Sea in Flames.
  • FishPhone text messaging reaches its 100,000th query.
  • Carl Safina wins James Beard Award for Journalism – Environment, Food Politics and Policy.
  • Carl Safina and Alan Duckworth invited to write “Fish Conservation” chapter in the Encyclopedia of Biodiversity, 2nd edition.
  • Carl Safina nominated for the 2012 Indianapolis Prize.
  • Carl Safina named among Twenty-Five Visionaries Who Are Changing the World by Utne Reader.
  • Carl Safina writes “The 2010 Gulf of Mexico Oil Well Blowout: a Little Hindsight” published in PLoS Biology.
  • First 2 episodes of Saving the Ocean air on over 100 PBS TV stations across the U.S.


  • Carl Safina’s first children’s book Nina Delmar and the Great Whale Rescue is published.
  • Carl Safina testifies before Congress regarding the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.
  • Carl Safina interviewed on The Colbert Report, MSNBC, CBS TV, PBS’ Need to Know, The Leonard Lopate Show (NPR), Globo News-Brazil, News 12 Long Island, Democracy Now, CNN, and BBC Radio among many others.
  • Carl Safina invited to give a talk at the TEDx Oil Spill Conference. His talk quickly moves to the main home page.
  • Special Oil Spill web section added to Blue Ocean Institute’s website following the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.
  • FishPhone launches a new iPhone app.
  • Blue Ocean Institute establishes partnership with Whole Foods Market to provide seafood rankings in stores.
  • Mercury in Fish Project launched in collaboration with The Gelfond Fund for Mercury Related Research & Outreach at Stony Brook University.
  • Carl Safina becomes co-chair of steering committee for the Center for Communicating Science at Stony Brook University. The Center is an innovative collaboration between SBU’s Journalism School and the School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences.
  • Carl Safina wins Sylvia Earle Award presented at the Blue Ocean Film Festival.
  • Carl Safina wins Guggenheim Fellowship in Natural Sciences Science Writing.
  • Carl Safina wins Lifetime Achievement Award from the International Wildlife Film Festival.
  • Blue Ocean Institute establishes partnership with Google Ocean.
  • Carl Safina writes “The Moral Climate” chapter in Moore and Nelson’s Moral Ground; Ethical Action for a Planet in Peril.


  • Carl Safina’s “Darwinism Must Die Go So That Darwin May Live” published in The New York Times.
  • Marah Hardt and Carl Safina’s “Threatening Ocean Life from the Inside Out” published in Scientific American.
  • Next Wave’s Ocean Science Literacy Workshops raise awareness of the ocean and Google Earth technology for English Language Learning students.
  • Safina’s “A Future for U.S. Fisheries” published in Issues in Science and Technology. (President Barack Obama’s article was also in this journal.)
  • FishPhone receives a Best in Green award by Ideal Bite, a green-living website.
  • FishPhone receives major media coverage from The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times to Bon Appetit, Gourmet, Condé Nast Traveler and Parade magazine (resulting in 4,000 queries in a single day.)
  • Green Chefs/Blue Ocean Institute launched – online sustainable seafood course for chefs and culinary students.


  • Carl Safina and Dane Klinger’s “Collapse of Bluefin Tuna in the Western Atlantic” published in Conservation Biology.
  • Carl Safina’s first book, Song for the Blue Ocean, named One of 12 Most Influential Environmental Books of All Time by Environmental Defense Fund.
  • Blue Ocean Institute invited to establish science office at the School of Marine & Atmospheric Sciences at Stony Brook University.
  • Blue Ocean distributes its 2.5 millionth ocean-friendly seafood guide.
  • Carl Safina’s “Toward a Sea Ethic” published in The American Prospect’s Ocean & Coasts special report. (Candidate Barack Obama also contributed an article.)
  • Carl Safina’s first popular story on ocean acidification, “Carbon’s Burden on the World’s Oceans,” published online at Yale Environment 360.


  • Blue Ocean Institute forms the Friendship Collaborative with Ken Wilson, Senior Pastor of Vineyard Churches of Ann Arbor, MI, to further dialogue between scientists and evangelical Christian leaders.
  • Blue Ocean Institute launches FishPhone, the nation’s first sustainable seafood text-messaging service, plus a downloadable seafood guide for cell phone and PDA users.
  • Carl Safina’s article, “On the Wings of the Albatross,” with photographs by Frans Lanting featured in National Geographic magazine.
  • New television series, Saving the Ocean, developed for PBS by Carl Safina and producer John Angier. Pilot segments filmed in Belize and Zanzibar.
  • Blue Ocean Institute partners with Stony Brook University’s School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences to collaborate on climate change research and science communication.


  • Carl Safina’s third book, Voyage of the Turtle, is published to critical acclaim.
  • Voyage of the Turtle selected a New York Times Book Review “Editors’ Choice.”
  • Carl Safina gives invited talk at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland on the status and future of fisheries and the oceans.
  • U.S. poet-laureate Billy Collins helps launch the Blue Ocean Institute’s Sea Stories literary project with his poem “Coastline.”
  • Carl Safina awarded George B. Rabb Medal from Chicago Zoological Society, Brookfield Zoo.
  • Carl Safina addresses a conference convened by the Center for Health and the Global Environment at Harvard and the National Association of Evangelicals to help create a conservation-oriented “Urgent Call to Action.”
  • Carl Safina awarded Bianimale Foundation Fellowship.


  • Fellow and Hawaii-based Marine Ecology and Fishery Specialist, Eric Gilman, produces “Catch Fish, Not Turtles,” a booklet in several languages created to help fishermen avoid catching sea turtles while fishing.
  • Carl Safina receives an Honorary Doctorate from State University of New York.
  • Carl Safina and four co-authors’ “U.S. Ocean Fish Recovery; Staying the Course” published in Science Magazine.


  • Mercédès Lee gives an invited talk at the World Bank, bringing global attention to ocean conservation and the importance of seafood sustainability as a food security concern.
  • Carl Safina and S. Chasis’ “Saving the Oceans” published in Issues in Science and Technology.


  • Blue Ocean Institute launched by MacArthur fellow Dr. Carl Safina, and Mercédès Lee.
  • Carrie Brownstein, Mercédès Lee, and Carl Safina’s first fully transparent methodology for sustainable seafood ranking, “Harnessing Consumer Power for Ocean Conservation” published in Conservation Magazine.
  • Mercédès Lee wins Renewable Natural Resources Foundation Outstanding Achievement Award for her book Seafood Lovers Almanac.
  • Partnership established between the Blue Ocean Institute and Atlantis Marine World Aquarium in Riverhead, Long Island, NY, as the basis for a new education program.
  • Carl Safina’s book Eye of the Albatross awarded John Burroughs Writer’s Medal.
  • National Academies of Science, Medicine, and Technology gives Carl Safina its Communications Award for Eye of the Albatross, as Year’s Best Book for Communicating Science.”
  • Carl Safina writes the Foreword for a new edition of The Sea Around Us by Rachel Carson.
  • Carrie Brownstein, Mercédès Lee, and Carl Safina’s “Harnessing Consumer Power for Ocean Conservation” published in Conservation in Practice.
  • Carl Safina receives Rutgers University George H. Cook Distinguished Alumnus Award as Most Distinguished Alumnus in 50-year history of the Ecology and Evolution Graduate Program.

(cover photo: Alaska. Bald eagle. © Carl Safina)