Ocean Heroes Network
Organizer & Co-Host
Ocean Heroes Network, co-founded by Captain Planet Foundation and Lonely Whale, was developed to give agency to emerging global youth leaders, ages of 11-18 years, to create their own impact campaigns to fight plastic pollution and preserve ocean health. Through providing the tools and resources to put their passion to work, Ocean Heroes create campaigns that support the attainment of UN SDG 14.1 by the end of 2025.
Steff McDermott - OHN Intern and Caribbean Bootcamp Coordinator (Ocean Hero 2018 - 2020)
Estefania McDermot (Steff) is a 19-year-old environmental conservationist from the Cayman Islands. She has been volunteering with various local environmental NGOs from the age of 14 and positioned herself with Plastic Free Cayman. She sits on the Cayman Islands Single-Use Plastics Steering Committee, she worked on waste management by providing event recycling services and attended the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP 25) as a Youth Delegate for the International National Trusts Organisation. She's an active alumnus for the Ocean Heroes Bootcamp and recipient of the Captain Planet Foundation's Youth Planteer of the Year Award 2018. Most recently, she joined Sail for Climate Action as the Caribbean Coordinator and is currently working on another united climate action campaign. Her passion for the environment and humanity has led her into the world of activism, business and politics, locally and internationally.
Protect Our Future
Protect Our Future is a youth led environmental campaign designed to draw the attention of the youth all over the world. Their goal is to preserve our world's pristine ecosystems, while connecting people from all around the world. Protect Our Future focuses on protecting the environment from corporate greed, arrogance, as well as unsustainable development.
Protect Our Future is a co-host of the Ocean Heroes Caribbean Bootcamp.
Ben Somerville - President, Protect Our Future + OHrBC Planner (Ocean Hero 2019, Ocean Hero Squad Leader 2020)
I was born and raised in the Cayman Islands. Given that I have lived my entire life on this small island, my brother and I have spent all of our time in the ocean and exploring the reefs. I have become extremely passionate in freediving, surfing, fishing, and almost every other activity that involves water from a very young age. My experiences with nature and the ocean are very different than most. I have been able to witness creatures that many only see online, explore depths that some never have the opportunity too, and live in a place that has some of the most pristine marine ecosystems available. My love for the ocean is the main reason that I became so invested in sustainability. From spending every weekend on boats exploring large reef drop offs and shark breeding zones, I have been a first hand witness to the effects of climate change. My love for the ocean will never leave, but the opportunities that people can experience in these environments will, if we do not fight for what we love.
Dejea Lyons - Vice President, Protect Our Future + OHrBC Planner (Ocean Hero 2019, Ocean Hero Squad Leader 2020)
Hi, I'm Dejea! I'm 17 years old and I was born and raised in the beautiful Cayman Islands. Growing up on an island has fostered my deep love for the ocean and the water, and I have been swimming and participating in water sports since childhood. Participating in these activities gave me a firsthand look at the downward progression of the ocean’s health (from plastic pollution in the water to coral bleaching), and I could tell that our oceans needed help. My first step toward taking action was attending Ocean Heroes Bootcamp 2019. Following this Bootcamp, I became the vice president of Protect Our Future, a youth lead organization in the Cayman Islands. Since that time, Protect Our Future has successfully lobbied to prevent the construction of a cruise port that would have decimated our island's reefs, helped push anti-plastic pollution policies in the Cayman Islands, and brought awareness to the importance of our marine flora and fauna (including mangroves). I am so excited to be helping to organize Caribbean Bootcamp and I can’t wait for what is to come!
Plastic Free Cayman
Co-Host & Plastic Pollution Track Captain
Plastic Free Cayman is volunteer group passionate about reducing single-use plastic in the beautiful Cayman Islands. They aim to raise awareness to the growing issues surrounding plastic pollution and help others on their plastic-free journey.
Plastic Free Cayman is a co-host of the Ocean Heroes Caribbean Bootcamp and is leading the Plastic Pollution Track of programming.
Bill LaMonte - Education Coordinator, Plastic Free Cayman (Plastic Pollution Track Leader)
Bill has been a science educator for two decades. He began teaching as a Peace Corps Volunteer in East Africa working on education, health and environmental initiatives in local Tanzanian villages. He has since taken his students to 5 different continents studying culture and the environment through community service. Bill teaches science at Cayman International School and is the educational coordinator for Plastic Free Cayman as he aims to empower the youth to act help improve environmental initiatives island-wide.
The ocean has always been my playground! I learned to swim at the age of 4, boogie boarded at 7, surfed at 18, white water rafted the Zambezi and Nile, snorkeled the diverse waters of Borneo, Guam, Vanuatu, Australia, and Cayman. It hurts to see our beautiful waters polluted with plastic. It is my hope to educate the current generation of advocates, in order to preserve the ecosystems that inspire an aquatic sense of adventure.
Claire Hughes - Founder, Plastic Free Cayman (Plastic Pollution Track Contributor)
Claire is originally from the U.K. and came to Grand Cayman as a Scuba Diver Instructor back in 2002. She is the Head of Primary Physical Education at Cayman Prep and is an avid sailor, runner, and Mum of 2 children. She started Plastic Free Cayman as a grassroots movement in 2017 and it became a Not-for Profit Charitable Trust in 2018.
After watching ‘A Plastic Ocean’ I was horrified at the extent of plastic pollution globally and I took a closer look at how our beautiful island was being affected by it.
I started an online petition to ban single-use plastic bags in the Cayman Islands and from there started educating myself and others through social media and at school. I found determination to make a difference on our island home, to actually do something about this problem and strongly encourage others, no matter where they are, to do the same.
Francella Martin - Beach Clean Up Coordinator, Plastic Free Cayman (Plastic Pollution Track Contributor)
Francella returned to Cayman in 2020 after studying in the UK for several years and taking some time out to travel. While pursuing her career in accountancy, she decided to join the PFC team as the Beach Cleanup Coordinator while continuing to make more sustainable choices in her daily life, and hopes to inspire others to do the same.
“After moving away, I really gained an appreciation of how lucky we are to live on such a beautiful island. It is so important that we do our part to preserve it so that future generations are able to have the same privilege. Beach cleanups are one way we can do this, and it is so rewarding to see the results of our efforts.”
Fish 'N Fins
Track Captain - Building Ocean Connections
Fish 'N Fins is a non-profit founded on the Caribbean island of Montserrat, to empower and unite Caribbean youth in creating and sharing solutions that will safeguard the future of 'our ocean', grow our blue economy, and build climate resilience. Fish N’ Fins was founded and is directed by Veta Wade, a passionate ocean advocate and outreach specialist, experienced in educating youth via empowerment, and adventure. Veta is also the founder and CEO of AQUA Caribbean Blue Economy Conference to engage the global community in a conversation of how the Caribbean can minimise their financial vulnerability by better understanding the importance of ocean conservation, innovation, and entrepreneurship.
Fish 'N Fins' Veta Wade is the Track Captain for the Building Ocean Connections track.
Guardians of the Reef
Track Captain - Marine Ecosystem Conservation
Weldon Wade has been active in the Bermuda diving community for over 10 years and is unapologetically dedicated to its growth. The first and only Bermudian certified as a freediver/scuba diver/closed-circuit rebreather diver, Weldon is also the founder of ocean conservation organization Guardians of the Reef, whose mission includes getting new divers excited to explore and protect the ocean, keep divers diving, and to encourage more young Bermudians to put on a pair of fins, mask and snorkel to see for themselves what lies beneath the waves.
Guardians of the Reef and Weldon Wade is Track Captain for the Ocean Ecosystem Conservation track.
Big Blue & You
For more than a decade, Big Blue & You has used science and art to inspire, educate, and empower youth to become ocean advocates. Marine biologist Danni Washington and her mother, Michelle Swaby-Smith, a Miami-based businesswoman, established the organization in 2008, when Danni was 21. Danni is the first African-American woman of color to host an American science show; currently, she is a correspondent on CBS’s “Mission Unstoppable” and host of Fox + Amazon’s “Xploration Nature Knows Best,” among other projects.