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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.

"We are so proud Cynthia received this honor. It is recognition of the multi-institutional, international team that was so dedicated to saving the endangered vaquita, the fight to save vaquitas has intensified even more, but Cynthia and our NMMF team haven't given up. We won't give up."

Dr. Sam Ridgway, NMMF President

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
“While I’m truly grateful for the honor of being named a Red Bull 2019 Hero, the truth is that none of these extraordinary marine conservation efforts are led by just one person,” said Dr. Smith. “Our entire team is made up of many heroes who are working every day to protect marine life and our oceans from the many issues that threaten their very existence.”
About Cynthia Smith

About Cynthia Smith

As the Executive Director for the National Marine Mammal Foundation (NMMF), Smith is charged with furthering the nonprofit's organizational mission to improve and protect marine mammals, humans, and the oceans by integrating exceptional medical care with innovative science, humanitarian service, and public education. Smith also serves as Chief Medical Officer for the NMMF, overseeing a robust team of clinicians, specialists, and medical researchers. This highly specialized team provides expertise for numerous programs and projects in the areas of medicine, research, and conservation. Smith understands the importance of giving back locally and globally through scientific expertise and high-quality research to improve conservation efforts worldwide.

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