‘Changing Seas’ With UM Alumna Wins Award from Nat’l Academies of Science

Jenny Litz

MIAMI — September 19, 2011 — “Sentinels of the Seas,” an episode of WPBT2’s original production, Changing Seas, is a winner of the 2011 Communications Awards in the Film/Radio/TV category presented by the National Academy of Sciences, National Academy of Engineering and Institute of Medicine. Supported by the W.M. Keck Foundation since 2003 as part of the Keck Futures Initiative, these prestigious awards recognize excellence in reporting and communicating science, engineering and medicine to the general public.

“Sentinel of the Seas” focused on the impacts legacy contaminants are having on Florida’s bottlenose dolphins. The piece features University of Miami (UM) Rosenstiel School of Marine & Atmospheric Science Alumna Jenny Litz, who studies dolphins as a research fishery biologist for NOAA’s National Marine Fisheries Service.

“This is a somewhat controversial topic, but we felt it was a very important story to be told,” says producer/writer Alexa Elliott, “Few people are aware of the impact high levels of contaminants in the oceans are having not just on marine mammals but on human health as well.”

The production team also included UM student Veronique Koch and Kandra Velez who served as associate producers; Sean Hickey, editor and videographer; Jeremy Nicholson and Allan Farrell, videographers; and Ray Ratliff, graphic designer.

“Our awards jury was particularly delighted to give this year’s television/radio award to a local public television station serving its viewers with a skillfully produced broadcast containing highly relevant science content,” says Bill Skane, Executive Director for News and Public Information at the National Academies.

Major funding for Changing Seas was made possible by a generous grant from the Batchelor Foundation. “Sentinels of the Seas” can be seen online at:

About Changing Seas
Currently in its fourth season, Changing Seas takes viewers on an exciting journey to the heart of our liquid planet. Narrated by renowned voice talent Peter Thomas, this documentary series lets viewers experience first-hand how oceanographers study earth's last frontier, and sheds light on how human activities are threatening ocean resources.

About WPBT2
South Florida’s premier public broadcaster, WPBT2, is a community-licensed, not-for-profit media enterprise serving communities from the Treasure Coast to the Florida Keys. WPBT2 provides high quality content from PBS, independent acquisitions and its own original productions. WPBT2’s digital media platform, offers: 2HD, a 24-hour high definition channel; Digital 2.2, a mix of Science & Nature Channel, The Florida Channel and Create; Digital 2.3, V-me, a 24-hour national Spanish-language network; and, the WPBT2 website including, Impromp2 (a community blog), the WPBT2 Video Player and uVu, a video sharing website.

About the University of Miami’s Rosenstiel School
The University of Miami is the largest private research institution in the southeastern United States. The University’s mission is to provide quality education, attract and retain outstanding students, support the faculty and their research, and build an endowment for University initiatives. Founded in the 1940’s, the Rosenstiel School of Marine & Atmospheric Science has grown into one of the world’s premier marine and atmospheric research institutions. Offering dynamic interdisciplinary academics, the Rosenstiel School is dedicated to helping communities to better understand the planet, participating in the establishment of environmental policies, and aiding in the improvement of society and quality of life. For more information, please visit

noaa •  alexa elliott •  national academy of sciences •  marine mammals •  dr. jenny litz •