The Central Caribbean Marine Institute announced that the keynote speaker at its annual Festival of Seas awards gala in November will be filmmaker Alexandra Cousteau, granddaughter of Jacques-Yves Cousteau.

This year, the institute is celebrating the 20th anniversary of the Festival of the Seas awards and gala.

Ms. Cousteau, a National Geographic Emerging Explorer, filmmaker and globally recognized advocate on water issues, will deliver a keynote address and assist in the awards ceremony.

“We are thrilled to have Alexandra Cousteau as our keynote speaker at the Festival of Seas,” said Kate Holden, director of advancement at CCMI. “Alexandra is an amazing ocean advocate, carrying on the work of her grandfather and father, Jacques-Yves Cousteau and Philippe Cousteau, Sr. Her presence at the event will draw attention to the urgency of protecting coral reefs locally and around the world.”

The organization also announced its shortlist of award finalists. An independent panel of four judges in the Cayman Islands considered more than 40 nominations. Winners will be announced at the annual Festival of Seas Awards and Gala event on Nov. 3, at Grand Old House.

“The nominations that came to CCMI featured a wide range of conservation, research and education efforts in the Cayman Islands. Our panel of judges was very impressed with the work that is being done locally,” said Carrie Manfrino, director, president and director of research and conservation at CCMI.

“Our goal with these awards was to recognize the great work that is being done to protect and conserve our coral reefs and oceans. We’re pleased to be able to highlight the many ways in which members of the Cayman community are making a positive difference.”

The shortlist of finalists includes:

Community Coral Champion: Cayman United Lionfish League – CULL (work to eradicate invasive lionfish); Butterfield (Seabins project); and Aaron Hunt (coral nursery work).

Change Maker of the Year: Janice Blumenthal (turtle-friendly lighting planning); Christopher Columbus Condos (working toward turtle-friendly lighting); Lorri Lamb and Michael Kader (developed app to log turtle nest data); and Michael Maes (Reefs Go Live technical guidance).

Marine Conservation Company of the Year: Butterfield (SeaBins project); Divetech (numerous efforts from fishing line recycling to lionfish culling to storm cleanup); and Stuarts Walker Hersant Humphries (support of innovative efforts and projects for ocean conservation).

Rising Star: Daniel Dixon; Cassandra MacDowell; Estefania McDermott; and Chris Touhey.

Science and Research Project of the Year: Emma Camp (research on coral threats, resilience and survival); Claire Dell (research on reef herbivores); and Johanna Kohler (shark research in Cayman).

Tourism Advocate of the Year: Ambassadors of the Environment (education programs at The Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman); Deep Blue Images (communicates beauty and importance of the ocean as a tourism product to a wide audience); RPBC – Royal Palms Beach Club (paper straw initiative).

In addition to the awards in the above categories, a People’s Choice Award will be given to one of six nominees: Douglas Cameron Jr., Lucy Collyer, Charles Ebanks, Derek Haines, Claire Hughes, and Aaron Hunt. The decision for this award was made by the public, who were asked to vote for their choice in an online voting process from Sept. 3-9.

For more information about the Festival of Seas awards and gala and to purchase tickets, visit www.reefresearch.org/gala2018.