Nancy was honored in February 2022 by receiving the 2021 Environmental  Enrichment from NAUI. 
Said Nancy: "Thank you to all my volunteers over the last 20 years for making this possible! I appreciate you for believing in me and giving so much."

Nancy Caruso

by Anabelle Vo from USA

Nancy Caruso (Photo by Anabelle Vo, MY HERO staff)
Nancy Caruso (Photo by Anabelle Vo, MY HERO staff)

Nancy Caruso is a marine biologist leading the charge in restoring life to the Southern California coast, and she's been quite successful in getting local communities to join her. Nancy's dedication and ingenuity has earned her the respect of many supporters and volunteers.

Kelp Fest
Kelp Fest

Over the last ten years, Nancy and several volunteers oversaw the kelp forest restoration efforts in Orange County. Local classrooms helped grow the kelp spores until they were ready to be planted in the ocean. From that point on, Nancy and her volunteers went on long, arduous dives to carefully place the young kelp underwater as well as maintain the local ecology to ensure their survival. With the help of Laguna Beach citizens, Nancy also founded the Kelp Fest in 2009 in order to help local communities better understand and appreciate the kelp forest. The festivities aim to use art, music, and other creative activities to display the beauty and importance of kelp.

Nancy Caruso (Photo by Anabelle Vo, MY HERO staff)
Nancy Caruso (Photo by Anabelle Vo, MY HERO staff)

As the founder of Get Inspired!, a nonprofit organization based out of Orange County, she wanted to imbue young people with a love for science by incorporating creative projects and learning experiences. Get Inspired! has partnered with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife as well as the Hubbs-SeaWorld Research Institute on several projects that allow students to participate in large conservation efforts, from elementary to high school-aged kids. Two species that benefited from Nancy's projects native to the Southern California coastline were the green abalone and the white sea bass, both of which were suffering from over-consumption by humans and by other environmental factors.

Green Abalone (
Green Abalone (

Nancy worked directly within classrooms with students to tend to young abalone and white sea bass until they were ready to be released. Nancy has also taken groups of students on diving trips to release the bass so that the kids can experience it firsthand. This willingness to share knowledge and engage young people is what makes Nancy Caruso such an extraordinary scientist and conservationist--she understands that people become invested in a cause if they are involved in it personally.

Steve Robbins, a Laguna Beach resident, first mentioned Nancy's work to the MY HERO Project, and she was subsequently honored at the Seventh Annual Laguna HERO FEST with a Special Hero Award. The short film The Kelp Lady features Nancy and highlights her previous and current efforts to protect the ocean.

Hear from Nancy, the Kelp Lady, in this short film here: Watch the MY HERO film, Laguna Beach Eco Heroes: Nancy Caruso:

Page created on 5/12/2014 10:29:48 PM

Last edited 2/6/2023 6:57:51 PM

The beliefs, viewpoints and opinions expressed in this hero submission on the website are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the beliefs, viewpoints and opinions of The MY HERO Project and its staff.

Related Links

Get Inspired! - Nancy Caruso's nonprofit organization
The Kelp Lady - A film about Nancy by the MY HERO Project
White seabass - California Department of Fish and Wildlife
Hubbs-Seaworld Research Institute - Hubbs-SeaWorld Research Institute is a public, non-profit charity dedicated to providing effective solutions to conflicts that arise between human activity and the natural world.
Kelpfest 2014 - KelpFest was created to celebrate the return of the kelp forests and to honor the thousands of people who helped to restore them.