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Jim Estes Wins Shoemaker Award for Distinguished Achievement in Communication

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U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) marine biologist James A. Estes, of the USGS Western Ecological Research Center field station in Santa Cruz, CA, has been selected as the sixth recipient of the Shoemaker Award for Distinguished Achievement in Communication. This award is given annually by the USGS to honor a scientist who creates excitement and enthusiasm for science among non-scientists. Jim's citation is reprinted below:

Jim Estes
Jim Estes
Dr. Estes is well known internationally and nationally among his peers and the public for his outstanding research on sea otters and the key role they play in kelp-forest ecosystems. Jim has successfully communicated the fascinating story of the precipitous decline of sea otters in Alaska, the discovery that killer whales were preying on otters, and the subsequent chain reaction that resulted in the loss of entire kelp-forest ecosystems. First published in the prestigious journal Science, Jim went on to capture the public's attention around the world by telling his story through newspaper, magazine, radio and television media, including the New York Times and Washington Post, the Associated Press, Reuters, ENN News, National Geographic magazine, NBC Nightly News, MSNBC, National Public Radio, CNN, ABC, and the Canadian Broadcasting Company. Jim discussed the otter decline and historical human impacts on the Aleutian otters in a two-part production by Fox Television-New Zealand and Oregon Public Television titled "Aleutians: Cradle of the Storms." Jim's story inspired Los Angeles Times environment writer Marla Cone to join Jim in Alaska to view and write about his research on Aleutian sea otters in depth, as a product for her Pew fellowship (also a Pew fellow, Jim is researching marine-reserve design). Her story for the Los Angeles Times appeared also in the Philadelphia Inquirer. Jim has enthusiastically communicated his story to all audiences, both young and old, leaving his legacy for even the youngest audience to ponder in a well-received, two-part cartoon story that appeared in Ranger Rick Magazine, a publication of the National Wildlife Federation.

Jim's career of more than 30 years of sea-otter research extends from the Aleutians to the southern end of the sea otter's range in California, where he seeks to discover why California's threatened sea-otter population is growing so slowly. When the spring census of 1999, led by the USGS, reported a 5-percent decline of adults and young adults since the previous year, another media frenzy regarding sea otters was sparked. Roger O'Neil reported the population decline on the NBC Nightly News barely hours after Estes and his team made the final tally known. Since 1999, media coverage has been regular and Estes is regarded as a highly valued source, sought after by writers for his scientific perspective whenever a new revelation about California otters is made. One appreciative science writer praised Jim's clear and deep thinking and honest expression of facts. The news media continue to visit with Jim annually after the spring census for his elucidation of the status and trend of the California sea-otter population. In March 2003, Jim's exemplary work throughout his career for advancing the status of knowledge in the field of marine science was recognized with the Ed Ricketts Award, made by the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary Research Activities Panel [see Sound Waves article "USGS Scientist Receives Ed Ricketts Marine Science Award"]. The association with Ricketts as a communicator is apt for Jim, who inspires an interest in the marine world in everyone he touches.

Related Sound Waves Stories
Research Ecologist Jim Estes Receives a Meritorious Service Award from the Department of the Interior
November 2003
Collapsing Populations of Marine Mammals—the North Pacific's Whaling Legacy?
October 2003
California Sea Otter Numbers Are Up for the 2003 Census
October 2003
USGS Scientist Receives Ed Ricketts Marine Science Award
April 2003
California Sea Otter Numbers Slide for Second Straight Year
July 2002
Congressional Briefing on California Sea Otter Research
March 2002
What's Wrong with the California Sea Otter?
February 2002

Related Web Sites
USGS Western Ecological Research Center
U.S. Geological Survey (USGS)

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Awards Jim Estes Wins Shoemaker Award

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U.S. Coastal Cliffs

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