ASLC honors five as Alaska Ocean Leaders

Senior wildlife biologist Robert Suydam of the North Slop Borough’s Wildlife Management Department and four others were to be honored on Thursday, March 31, by the Alaska SeaLife Center, in a virtual ceremony of the 2022 Alaska Ocean Leadership Awards.

Suydam received the Walter J. and Ermalee Hickel Lifetime Achievement Award, which recognizes individuals who have made exceptional contributions to management of Alaska’s coastal and ocean resources for over 20 years.

Suydam’s three decades of research on bowhead and beluga whales, and his deep involvement with co-management and Alaska Native organizations represents a truly exceptional contribution to management and the science of Alaska’s marine mammal resources, ASLC officials said. Suydam has published over 200 peer-reviewed papers and technical reports throughout his tenure with the borough on a wide range of species and topics.  He has also served on multiple advisory panels and boards that have advanced understanding of the Arctic and sub-Arctic marine environment, worked with the oil and gas industry in Alaska to ensure that the implementation of sound science-driven policies related to offshore exploration and development facilitated protect of the Arctic environment and fauna potentially impacted by development.

ASLC also cited Suydam for his advocacy of Alaska Native subsistence rights to harvest marine mammals and feed their communities traditional foods and for high quality arctic marine science.

Other honors went to Jim Pfeiffenberger, for the marine science Outreach Award; veterinarian Dr. Tuula Hollmen; for the Marine Research Award. Ward Cove Dock Group and Norwegian Cruise Line, jointly for the Stewardship and Sustainability Award. Elin Antaya, for the Hoffman-Greene Ocean Youth Award; and Richard Hocking, for the Ocean Ambassador Award.

Pfeiffenberger was honored for his efforts to educate people about Alaska’s marine and coastal ecosystems, and marine environment in general. Hollmen was cited for three decades of work on seabird ecology and epidemiology, including 20 years of focus on the threatened Steller’s eider.


Ward Cove Dock Group and Norwegian Cruise Line were honored for transitioning a decaying brownfield site into a place the community takes pride in once again.

Antaya was honored for promoting understanding and stewardship of Alaska’s oceans, and Hocking was cited for his outstanding contributions in promoting public awareness and appreciation of Alaska’s oceans, coast and marine ecosystems.