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Volunteer of the Year


Jess Cancelmo head shot with palm trees in backgroundJesse Cancelmo
Photographer/Author/Retired Project Director
Houston, TX

Jesse Cancelmo is a long-time supporter and advocate for Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary.  His support began in 1989.

As an active member of the Gulf Reef Environmental Action Team (GREAT), Jesse was one of the people that helped install mooring buoys to protect the coral reefs from anchor damage before the sanctuary was even designated. He was also one of the many divers who actively supported and worked for sanctuary designation. 

When the Naturalist On Board program was active, Jesse made trips to the sanctuary on the dive charter boats to talk to divers about what they saw on their dives, how being a sanctuary protected the coral reefs and what they could do to help protect the area for themselves and future generations.

Jesse receiving his Volunteer of the Year plaque from G.P. Schmahl
Jesse was presented with his Volunteer of the Year award at the May 2015 Advisory Council meeting.
(Image: FGBNMS/Drinnen)

In 2011, Jesse became a member of the FGBNMS Advisory Council after participating in several meetings as an interested party. He has been an active participant in various advisory council discussions and served as both Vice Chair (2012-2013) and Chair (2013-2015) of the advisory council.

Jesse Cancelmo chairing an advisory council meeting
Jesse chaired the Sanctuary Advisory Council from
(Image: FGBNMS/Drinnen)

Jesse has contributed many photos to the sanctuary, written numerous articles and written a book titled Texas Coral Reefs in which FGBNMS is prominent. He has also given sanctuary presentations to a variety of dive clubs and other interested organizations.

In addition, Jesse has been key in efforts to get an underwater webcam at the sanctuary, led the charge and planning for the first ever SAC Dive and Teambuilding trip to the FGBNMS in 2015 and has assisted with sanctuary outreach events such as Ocean Discovery Day

Cover image of Texas Coral Reefs book

Jesse’s photography and writing have vastly expanded knowledge about the sanctuary system, especially in the recreational and technical diving communities. 

His book has also introduced many non-divers to the awesome resources found at FGBNMS and other special areas.  By sharing his knowledge and love for Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary, he introduces many people to the sanctuary system as a whole.

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