NMMF's Dr. Cynthia Smith Named 2019 Red Bull Hero for Pioneering Ocean Conservation Work
Citing her commitment to protecting endangered dolphins, whales, and other marine mammals across the globe, the Red Bull Company has named National Marine Mammal Foundation’s (NMMF) Executive Director Dr. Cynthia Smith as one of its Heroes for 2019. Smith was highlighted for her work as a driving force behind the historic effort to save the vaquita porpoise from extinction through the VaquitaCPR project. The ground-breaking marine conservation effort is featured in the current National Geographic documentary film Sea of Shadows.
From Red Bull’s announcement: Lately Smith has been referred to as “the Jane Goodall of the marine world.” Jane Goodall has supported “Sea of Shadows” and the quest to save the vaquita.
Smith and Goodall appeared together at the Los Angeles premiere of Sea of Shadows, hosted by Executive Producer Leonardo DiCaprio. “While I’m absolutely flattered to be mentioned in the same breath as Jane Goodall, it is impossible to compare myself to her,” Smith said. “I remember being in awe of her as a little girl, and my respect for her just continues to grow. Dr. Goodall has made an amazing impact on animal conservation efforts throughout the world.”
In addition to a focus on saving the vaquita porpoise from extinction, Smith and the National Marine Mammal Foundation (NMMF) team are working to:
- Assess the long-term health effects of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill on bottlenose dolphins living in the northern Gulf of Mexico
- Build a health database for endangered Southern Resident killer whales in the Pacific Northwest
- Locate the calving grounds of the endangered Northern Pacific right whale to aid in their protection
- Develop conservation medicine approaches for at-risk, threatened, and endangered small cetacean species with a multi-institutional, international team of experts