Biography: John H. Prescott
John H. Prescott was a conservationist, marine biologist, diver, congressional advisor, teacher, explorer, world-renowned whale expert and a pioneer. His achievements were known nationally and internationally and in 1997 he was awarded the Marlin Perkins Award for Professional Excellence by the American Zoo and Aquarium Association (AZA) for his contributions to husbandry, zoological display, research, conservation and public education.
John served as executive director of the New England Aquarium from 1972-1994 where he was the guiding force behind the transformation of the Aquarium from a Boston waterfront attraction to a world-class institution in education, research and conservation. The New England Aquarium became the model for aquariums around the world and influenced the AZA to shift its focus from entertainment and attractions to conservation.
His career began as a commercial tuna fisherman in California and from there he went on to become a biologist and curator and subsequently General Manager at Marineland of the Pacific. At Marineland, he and colleague Ken Norris were the first to document that bottlenosed dolphins echolocate.
John was instrumental in expanding and improving marine animal research and conservation. At the New England Aquarium, he oversaw the completion of the sea lion facility Discovery and the Animal Care Center, and founded the Marine Animal Stranding Network. The Aquarium became a center for marine animal rescue and rehabilitation and paved the way for many similar groups to be formed. In 1988, John led the first successful rehabilitation and release efforts of three pilot whales, which had stranded on Cape Cod.
On a national level, John was chairman of the Marine Mammal Commission's Scientific Advisory Group and headed the National Humpback Whale Recovery Team. He served for five years as a member of the U.S. delegation to the International Whaling Commission and was on the Marine Fisheries Advisory Committee of the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) from 1988 to 1993.