New England Outdoor Writers honor shark researcher, Times columnist

NEOWA board members captain Bill Brown (left) and Ellie Horowitz presented marine biologist Greg Skomal with an award for shark conservation research. — Photo by Nelson Sigelman

The New England Outdoor Writers Association (NEOWA) awarded Nelson Sigelman, Times fishing columnist and the newspaper’s managing editor, a first and a third place Excellence in Writing 2011 award, in the best newspaper article category, and a first place award in the best column category, at its annual meeting on March 31 in Oxford.

The winning article, “Wounded warriors, far from war but not from the daily battle,” published September 28, 2011, is a series of interviews with wounded soldiers and their family members during their brief respite from military hospitals for a fishing vacation on Martha’s Vineyard as the guests of the Nixon family and the Striped Bass and Bluefish Derby committee last fall. One contest judge said the story left him in tears.

Mr. Sigelman’s story about an ill-fated tuna trip, “Tuna fever can be a fatal disease for those who venture too far,” published August 10, 2011, won in the best column category.

Mr. Sigelman was in familiar company. NEOWA presented Greg Skomal, Massachusetts Division of Fisheries senior biologist and shark expert, with the “Joe Yerka Sportsmen of the Year” award, presented annually to a nonmember.

Mr. Skomal, a former Island resident and longtime member of the Derby committee, was recognized for his research efforts, in particular the tagging of white sharks off the coast of Cape Cod. “His dedication to the study of apex predators has made a major contribution to the increased protection and better understanding of what many people fear most, sharks,” NEOWA said.

“This is not Nelson’s first award from NEOWA. It’s only the latest in a long trail of awards for his writing, whose topics range widely. Nelson knows how to tell a story – and even to draw a tear – and this know-how is of immense value to The Times and its readers,” Doug Cabral, The Times editor, said this week.

NEOWA, the oldest regional outdoor writers’ organization in America, is a nonprofit, professional and educational organization.