Celebrating Jay Holcomb, Our Ocean Hero

April 2011 is a big month for us in more ways than one. The 20th will mark not only the one-year anniversary of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, but also International Bird Rescue Research Center’s 40th anniversary. If these two milestones weren’t enough, today our beloved Director Emeritus and Oceana’s 2010 ‘Ocean Hero,’ Jay Holcomb, celebrates his 60th birthday.

Jay was at the helm of International Bird Rescue Research Center as Executive Director for the best part of the last 24 years. Our team of wildlife specialists has responded to over 200 oil spills, and Jay has led our team on most of these occasions. I like to think of him as the Red Adair of oiled wildlife response.

I’m sure that there are many people who have Jay to thank for their connection and eventual dedication to this unique field of work; that is certainly my story. Having met Jay in France after an oil spill in January 2000, he persuaded me later that year to board a plane for Cape Town, South Africa, and join the unprecedented international rescue effort to save 20,000 oiled African Penguins. I would not be here at International Bird Rescue writing this email if I had not responded to that call.

Hundreds of oil spills and tens of thousands of birds later, Jay has not lost an ounce of his boundless energy, his larger-than-life personality, or his passion for the wildlife he has dedicated his life to protecting. As we reflect back on his incredible contributions to date, we also look forward to people and wildlife benefiting from Jay’s unique expertise for many more years to come.

So, on behalf of the people and animals whose lives you have touched, we wish you a very happy birthday, Jay. We salute you and will most definitely raise a glass in your honor.

Paul Kelway
Executive Director
International Bird Rescue Research Center