Seahorse expert wins Indianapolis Prize for conservation

A Canadian scientist described as the “preeminent authority on seahorse ecology and conservation” has won 2020 Indianapolis Prize for conservation, it was announced Tuesday.

Amanda Vincent, who directs Project Seahorse at the University of British Columbia, was the first biologist to study seahorses in the wild, document their extensive trade and establish a project for conservation of their 44 species. Seahorses act as flagship species for a wide range of marine conservation issues, the zoo said.

With funding support from the Eli Lilly and Co. Foundation, the Indianapolis Zoo has given the Indianapolis Prize every other year since 2006 to advance its animal conservation mission.

Vincent, who was selected for the prize by a nine-person jury of conservationists and their representatives, will receive $250,000. She previously was a finalist for the 2010 and 2016 Indianapolis Prize.

“Dr. Vincent brings a collaborative, culturally sensitive and solutions-focused approach to ocean conservation,” said Rob Shumaker, president and CEO of the Indianapolis Zoological Society Inc.

Five other finalists for the prize will get $10,000 each:

— Dee Boersma of the University of Washington and Ecosystem Sentinels, who champions penguins through efforts to stop penguin harvesting and developing protected areas and nesting sites. She was a finalist for the 2016 and 2018 Indianapolis Prize.

— Gerardo Ceballos of the National Autonomous University of Mexico and Institute of Ecology, a conservation strategist who created species survival plans for the Mexican jaguar and the black-footed ferret. He was a finalist for the 2010 and 2014 Indianapolis Prize.

— Christophe Boesch of the Max Planck Institute of Evolutionary Anthropology and Wild Chimpanzee Foundation, who fights to ensure a safe future for chimpanzees by studying deforestation and promoting new protection areas.

— Sylvia Earle of Deep Ocean Exploration and Research Inc, Mission Blue and SEAlliance, a trailblazer and ambassador for the Earth’s oceans. She has established a global network of protected marine preserves that she calls “hope spots and was a 2018 finalist for the Indianapolis Prize.

— John Robinson of the Wildlife Conservation Society, a leader in using field-based scientific research to establish terrestrial and marine protected areas for tigers, gorillas, forest elephants, coral species and more.

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