The Academy of Underwater Arts and Sciences has announced the names of the four 2009 recipients of its prestigious NOGI Award. They are: Michele Hall, filmmaker/photographer/writer; Hillary Hauser, activist and founder of Heal the Ocean; Paul Humann author/photographer/publisher; and Michael Lang, Director of the Smithsonian Marine Science Network.
NOGI stands for New Orleans Grand Isle and the statuette evolved from a trophy given to winners of a spearfishing tournament held around the oilrigs off New Orleans’ Grand Isle in the late 1950s.
The award has been given annually since 1960. Its four categories — the Arts, Distinguished Service, Sports/Education and Science — recognize dive pioneers and leaders who have had a global impact on the exploration, enjoyment, safety and preservation of the underwater world.
NOGI recipients will receive their awards at a gala held in Las Vegas on Thursday, November 18, 2010, during the Diving Equipment and Marketing Association's (DEMA) annual trade show. The banquet is open to the public.
Michele Hall, recipient of 2009's NOGI for The Arts, was a nurse for 19 years before joining her husband Howard in the "family business" of making underwater films. She is also an underwater photographer whose photos have appeared in National Geographic Traveler, International Wildlife, National Wildlife, Tauchen, Ocean Realm, Fathoms, BBC Wildlife and Ranger Rick, among others.
She has authored a children’s book, The Shark Project Book (1993), and produced or co-produced seven one-hour natural history marine wildlife television documentary films, including Shadows in a Desert Sea (PBS Nature 1992), the National Geographic Special Jewels of the Caribbean (1994), the five part PBS series Secrets of the Ocean Realm (1997) and Shark Mountain (PBS Nature 2005).
Hillary Hauser, recipient of the NOGI for Distinguished Service, has been working in, on, under, around and for the ocean for 40 plus years. She started diving in 1966 and was an editor of Skin Diver Magazine from 1969 to 1971.
Hauser has published six books about the sea, as well as numerous articles about underwater adventure for National Geographic, the Los Angeles Times Sunday Travel section, Esquire, Redbook, Geo, Reader's Digest, The Surfer’s Journal, among others.
In August 1998, in response to the closure of local beaches because of pollution, Hillary wrote an editorial for the Santa Barbara News-Press, which resulted in a public demonstration that motivated her to form Heal the Ocean.
The 3,000-member organization focuses on wastewater technology as it impacts the ocean, facilitating wastewater treatment plant upgrade and removal of septic tanks from creeks, marshes, bays and beaches.
Paul Humann, recipient of the NOGI for Sports/Education, took his first underwater pictures in the early 1960s. By the late ླྀs his fish portraits were being published in Skin Diver Magazine. That was only the beginning.
In 1971 Humann became the owner of the Caribbean’s first dive liveaboard, the MV Cayman Diver. As captain, he photographed, documented and studied the Caribbean’s coral reefs. His work established visual identification criteria for a variety of marine animals.
Many of his pictures were the first ever published of living species in their natural habitat. In 1988, he and Ned DeLoach formed New World Publications, publishing 14 books, including Reef Fish Identification, Reef Creature Identification and Reef Coral Identification - Florida, Caribbean, Bahamas.
In 1990, the two co-founded the Reef Environmental Education Foundation, an organization of sport scuba divers that conducts underwater surveys to provide a continual flow of data monitoring marine wildlife populations. In 2007, Humann was inducted into the International Diving Hall of Fame.
Michael A. Lang, recipient of the NOGI for Science, became director of the Smithsonian’s pan-institutional Scientific Diving Program in 1990. He served as executive officer for Scientific Programs (2001–2002) and has been director of the Smithsonian Marine Science Network since 1998.
Through an Interagency Agreement with the National Science Foundation Office of Polar Programs, he has directed the U.S. Antarctic Program scientific diving program since 2001. Lang serves as the Office of Under Secretary for Science (OUSS) representative on the Institutional Review Board for Human Subjects Research.
He has published more than 50 papers and received research awards from UC Sea Grant, Woods Hole Sea Grant, USC Sea Grant, NOAA, DEMA, AAUS, DAN, National Science Foundation Office of Polar Programs and Division of Ocean Sciences.
To find out more about the 183 previous NOGI Award recipients and learn how they earned a place in diving history, peruse The Academy of Underwater Arts & Sciences’ website at http://www.auas-nogi.org.