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Galway Atlantaquaria "Ambassadors" and Clean Coast Volunteers Awarded

3rd September 2022
Galway Atlantaquaria's Garry Kendellen with BIAZA award winners Ultan McManus, Esmé McManus and Amelia Walker
Galway Atlantaquaria's Garry Kendellen with BIAZA award winners Ultan McManus, Esmé McManus and Amelia Walker

Galway Atlantaquaria Ocean ambassadors and Clean Coasts volunteers have been recognised by the British and Irish Association of Zoos and Aquariums (BIAZA) for their “outstanding” work.

The association’s new “Zoo and Aquarium Hero” award is conferred on a “select few individuals who have made a special contribution to zoos and aquariums”.

Ultan McManus, Amelia Walker and Esmé McManus were praised for making an “incredible difference towards promoting ocean literacy.

They were also praised for their work on clean seas, both as Clean Coasts volunteers, and ocean literacy champions through effective participation; and storytelling through social media.

“We are honoured to be selected by BIAZA as recipients of this award. A special thanks to Garry Kendellan and the wonderful staff at Galway Atlantaquaria for the nomination,” Ultan McManus said.

“The aquarium is an invaluable resource on our doorstep; they do amazing work championing conservation and highlighting the importance of our marine ecosystems,” he said.

“Beach cleans help protect marine wildlife, reduce microplastics in our oceans, improve water quality, emphasise the significance of sustainability, and foster community engagement,”he said.

“ Our enthusiasm for volunteering has been spurred on by our concerns for the future of the planet; the extreme consequences of climate change and pollution are disastrous. Individually we can make a difference, but together we are a crucial force for change,” McManus said.

“ We are blessed to be surrounded by the beauty of Galway’s rugged coastline, but our geographical position on the west coast of Ireland leads to kilos of global marine debris, as well as local household waste, washing up on our shores. We want to preserve the enduring importance of Galway’s relationship with the sea for generations to come by “Leaving No Trace” and working to keep our beaches pristine,” he said.

“In 2017 our Clean Coasts group was cleaning Grattan Beach, and I met Ultan who was just walking along the beach,” Garry Kendellen of Galway Atlantaquaria recalled.

“He asked what we were doing, and he joined us for the beach clean-up. Ever since that day he has been a powerful advocate and supporter of the sea, joining beach cleans, setting up their own ones and telling a wonderful story about the importance of clean seas,” he said.

The trio were among 14 other volunteers across Britain and Ireland to receive the award. They join existing “heroes”, including fundraisers who supported zoos over the pandemic, and TV stars Aaron, Tyler and Cam Whitnall – hosts of CBBC’s One Zoo Three programme.

BIAZA chief executive Dr Jo Judge said the judges were “blown away by the dedication and innovative work of our winning Zoo and Aquarium Heroes”.

“These volunteers are giving up their time to help the zoo communities’ mission of protecting nature and creating a better world. Whether that is consistently caring for some of the world’s most wonderful animals or sharing their passion for nature on social media,” Judge said.

“The natural world is in crisis. It is a world that needs heroes more than ever before. We are so pleased to celebrate their achievements today,” Judge added.

Lorna Siggins

About The Author

Lorna Siggins

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Lorna Siggins is a print and radio reporter, and a former Irish Times western correspondent. She is the author of Search and Rescue: True stories of Irish Air-Sea Rescues and the Loss of R116 (2022); Everest Callling (1994) on the first Irish Everest expedition; Mayday! Mayday! (2004); and Once Upon a Time in the West: the Corrib gas controversy (2010). She is also co-producer with Sarah Blake of the Doc on One "Miracle in Galway Bay" which recently won a Celtic Media Award

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