Kirsten Jones and Gary Hancock

The OCC Award of Merit - 2008

Awarded to non-members Kirsten Jones and Gary Hancock (Wandering Albatross). In May 2006 they set out on a nine month, 14,000 mile voyage from the Arctic to the Antarctic in aid of the Whale and Dolphin Conservation Society, an organisation dedicated to protecting cetaceans internationally. Their route was particularly relevant, as many species of whales and dolphins depend on feeding grounds in the icy northern and southern waters which they visited, while others make lengthy migrations to important breeding grounds in the tropical seas which they traversed.

From October 2007 until March 2008 they sailed around the Falkland Islands and South Georgia, two important breeding areas for various albatross species. Their experiences with albatrosses in these remote locations were, quite simply, wonderful. They were privileged to watch black-browed albatrosses building nests of mud and grass, magnificent wandering albatrosses performing complex courtship dances, grey-headed albatrosses feeding their chicks and, most memorable of all, a black-browed albatross chick in the process of hatching. They consider it unthinkable that any of these special birds may one day cease to roam the wild southern ocean, and that albatrosses face extinction due to mankind’s activities is a situation which they feel to be inexcusable.