Hilton can pinpoint the moment that he became a conservationist. He was 19 years old, on a trip in the Galápagos Islands, looking forward to a scuba diving excursion in a protected marine wildlife area. As his group’s boat approached the area, the captain delivered news that it was littered with illegal fishing lines. “You have two options,” the captain said. “You can go diving as planned, or you can help pull these fishing lines in.”

The decision was obvious to Hilton and his group. They spent the day hauling in the illegal fishing gear, discovering stingrays, sharks and turtles caught in the lines. “It was incredibly sad to see the protected area being ravaged by humans,” said Hilton. “The experience was overwhelming, and it showed me the need to teach people about conservation.”

Since that fateful trip, Hilton has developed a passion for animal welfare and has become an advocate for sustainability in managing our marine resources. His hope is that others can build their passions for conservation by watching animals thrive, rather than as a result of seeing them suffer.

He sees this in action when he visits the Aquarium with his daughter, Violet. “It’s like the first visit every time,” he says. “Even though she is young, I can see her developing compassion for animals, especially when we visit the Sea Turtle Hospital. She reaches out and asks what’s going on with the animals. She gets to experience a world where animals are valued and protected.”

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Lynne and Dennis Gettelfinger

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Marzio Gillis

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Beth Demas

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Maris Ferro

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Hilton Smith III

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Sue Elliot

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Jennifer and Shane Woolf

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Briged and Callan Potter

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Kate Byrd

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Clif Green

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Carmelina Livingston

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Barb Bergwerf

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Bob Harris, Jr.

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Carl Ward

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Laura Duncan

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Del Schutte

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Josie McLean

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Peter Stonefield

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Scott and Jordana Snider

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Bruce Hecker

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Michele Jaques

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What’s Your Story?

Over 15 years we’ve heard stories about the lives the Aquarium has influenced and now we are asking for your help to capture these amazing stories and share them with the world.

Share your story with us by submitting below through e-mail. If you’d prefer to tell us your story call us, (843) 579-8508.

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