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It can be incredibly frustrating to hear for-profit amusement parks and aquaria claim that they are working for the cause of ocean conservation. SeaWorld, for example, claimed at the end of last year that they were “true animal advocates” by pointing out that they regularly rescue injured and orphaned marine creatures. In making this point, however, they conveniently glossed over the fate of their captive animals – such as Tilikum, the 12,000-pound male orca who has been connected with three human deaths, and whose teeth have been worn down to stumps over the years because of his stress-induced habit of chewing the rails of his tank.

Luckily, there are many organizations out there who are genuinely dedicated to preserving the health of our world’s oceans – and who somehow manage to do so without forcing certain marine animals to inhabit tiny concrete tanks and perform inane tricks. Below, we introduce you to ten of them.

1. Sea Shepherd Conservation Society

Sea Shepherd is well-known for its ongoing campaigns against the dolphin hunts of Taiji, and for chasing Japanese whalers out of whale sanctuaries. Other recent campaigns include halting poaching in Guatemala, collaborating with rapper Pharrell Williams on a new sustainable fashion line, and advocating a ban of the West Australian shark cull.

Founded in 1977, their mission is to “end the destruction of habitat and the slaughter of wildlife in the world’s oceans in order to conserve and protect ecosystems and species,” using direct-action tactics.

2. Oceanic Preservation Society

The Oceanic Preservation Society, founded in 2005 by photographer and diving enthusiast Louie Psihoyos, were responsible for creating the award-winning 2009 documentary, “The Cove,” which opened people’s eyes to the horrors of the annual Taiji dolphin hunt.

Other OPS initiatives include “Undersea Majesty,” a stunning series of photographs taken in Raja Ampat, Indonesia, a collection of children’s sea art, and an online campaign inviting members of the public to pledge that they will never to go to dolphin shows.

3. Ric O’Barry’s Dolphin Project

The Dolphin Project was founded by Ric O’Barry in 1982 as an offshoot of the Earth Island Institute. O’Barry, a former captive dolphin trainer, claims that his life was irrevocably changed when Kathy, one of the dolphins he had been working with on the set of the movie “Flipper,” died in his arms. This caused him to realize that “capturing dolphins and training them to perform silly tricks is simply wrong.”

Some of the Dolphin Project’s many oceanic conservation initiatives include campaigning against Japan’s cruel cetacean hunts and halting the Solomon Islands dolphin trade (largely composed of traumatized survivors of the Islands’ annual dolphin hunt.) As part of these campaigns, they are running an online petition to help stop the Taiji dolphin slaughter, and another one asking members of the public to pledge that they will never attend a dolphin show.

4. American Cetacean Society

The American Cetacean Society was launched on Nov. 3, 1967, by Elizabeth “Bemi” DeBus and Dr. Clark Cameron. Their mission is to protect the habitats of whales, dolphins, and porpoises through public education and outreach programs, together with the rewarding of research grants to conservation researchers. Recent ACS grant recipients include John Wang of FormosaCetus Research in Ontario, Canada, and Casey Clark of the Moss Landing Marine Laboratories.

ACS’ education program involves the distribution of teaching guides and curricula to school teachers nationwide, to help spread awareness of cetaceans’ needs amongst young people. The organization names its core values as: integrity and transparency, credibility and independence; commitment to strategic partnerships; and commitment to sound science.

5. Whale and Dolphin Conservation

Whale and Dolphin Conservation is a worldwide organization devoted to the well-being of both wild and captive cetaceans. Their simple vision is to create “a world where every whale and dolphin is safe and free,” while their core belief is that “all dolphins and whales have the right to exist as nature intends, not as humans decide.”

WDC has been actively campaigning for an end to the trade in captive cetaceans. Their ongoing and disturbing report on the fate of captive orcas makes it abundantly clear that killer whales forced to live in concrete tanks suffer in innumerable ways – with lower life expectancies and captivity-specific health conditions being part of the report.

6. Ocean Conservancy

Ocean Conservancy was founded in 1972 as a small organization called the Delta Conservancy, which was later renamed as the Center for Environmental Education and the Center for Marine Conservation before finally assuming its current name. Their simple vision of fighting for a healthy ocean has led them to initiate projects such as the well-known International Coastal Cleanup, which enlists thousands of volunteers all over the U.S. each year to assist in clearing trash and other human debris from our beaches.

At present, they are also running an online petition aimed at telling the oil giant BP to clean up its act and take full responsibility for the devastating 2010 oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, which killed eleven people and caused incalculable damage to the surrounding wildlife. Sign and share today!

7. Institute for Ocean Conservation Science

The Institute for Ocean Conservation Science is headed by Ellen K. Pikitch, PhD, of the Stony Brook University School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences. This organization’s research is focused on advancing our understanding of understudied marine animals. They also work to develop new methods of replenishing the worldwide population of forage fish – small schooling fish that are used as a food source by larger aquatic animals, and whose numbers are in decline.

The Institute has also been renowned for its ground-breaking research on endangered or threatened sharks. One of its recent shark-centered initiatives was the design of a specialized shark sanctuary on the world’s second-largest barrier reef in Belize.

8. Oceana

Oceana is the largest organization in the world solely devoted to marine conservation. It was established in 2001 by The Pew Charitable Trusts, the Oak Foundation, Marisla Foundation, and Rockefeller Brothers Fund. In 2002, Oceana merged with the American Oceans Project, set up by actor and environmental activist, Ted Danson, in order to “more effectively address our common mission of protecting and restoring the world’s oceans.” Danson continues to serve on Oceana’s board of directors.

The organization’s vision is to “make our oceans as rich, healthy and abundant as they once were.” Some of their recent campaign victories include the halting of Shell’s plans to drill for oil in the Arctic Ocean in 2014, and the upholding of shark finning bans in Calif., Maryland, and Wash.

9. Blue Ocean Society for Marine Conservation

The Blue Ocean Society works to protect marine animals and their habitats in the Gulf of Maine, through a variety of research and education programs. The group was founded by Jen Kennedy and Dianna Schulte, whale watch naturalists who were “frustrated with the lack of translation of open ocean research into information that could be used by the public.”

In their efforts to make facts about the marine life of the Gulf of Maine more accessible to the general public, the Blue Ocean Society regularly gives presentations on marine life to schools and libraries (followed by beach clean-up trips). They have also partnered with a number of reputable whale tour operators in the area to organize wild whale watching tours.

10. Team ORCA: Ocean Research and Conservation Association

The Ocean Research and Conservation Association (also known as Team ORCA) was set up in 2005 by marine researcher Edie Widder, PhD. Since then, the team of engineers, research scientists, and marine biologists behind ORCA has achieved “exciting progress in using the latest technologies to develop low-cost solutions or analysis of our polluted waterways.”

Some of ORCA’s initiatives include the FAST (Fast Assessment of Sediment Toxicity) program, and the “ORCA kilroys,” a low-cost oceanic monitoring network that enables the team to keep track of the long-term health of our oceans.

Another much-lauded ORCA campaign is Mission Blue – launched in 2009, after the author, oceanic advocate, and ORCA supporter Sylvia Earle expressed a wish to “ignite public support for a global network of marine protected areas, hope spots large enough to save and restore the ocean, the blue heart of the planet.” Following the establishment of Mission Blue, a network of global philanthropists, including Glenn Close, Jean-Michel Cousteau, Jackson Browne, Leonardo DiCaprio (seriously – can that guy do no wrong?) pledged over $16.7 million to the cause – enabling ORCA to continue their valuable work to an even higher level!

Image source: Wikimedia Commons

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40 comments on “10 Amazing Organizations Bravely Fighting for Marine Conservation”

Click to add comment
Bily Carvelli
1 Months Ago

great job

hope also people stop eating live seafood like lobster and others
(boiling to death to be fresh is really over board ,we all love seafood but this is over the top!!!

5 Months Ago

Hi! thanks for all this amazing info, I was wondering, where did you got it from? I am struggling with that info and I need it for my thesis related with ocean conservation... Thank you very much!

Greg Pettengill
3 Years Ago

I can't figure out how to send a private message to Sea shepherd, but I would like some help on St. Thomas in the US Virgin Islands. There is an organization in the process of building a dolphin encloses or tour or what ever. I would like some help on how to combat this new assault on the dolphins. Any help would be appreciated, there is also an on going tour that takes people to a dolphin experience in the British Virgin Island. I just need some help on how to educate people Thanks Capt. Greg

Lyn Hoffmann
3 Years Ago

Good work... BUT... Who is helping the WOLVES, BEARS, WILD MUSTANGS and MOUNTAIN LIONS??? The are KILLING them!!! Please see what is happening and please will somebody help them. It isnt only Marine creatures. They are killing everything. ...it MUST STOP NOW!!

Rafael Noriega Vera
3 Years Ago

share: https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=597621613654918&set=gm.10152235608036306&type=1

Tony Fields
3 Years Ago

G'donya SSCS number ONE yarrrrr!!!

Anette Scully
3 Years Ago

Please sign this petition. Only 2138 signatures needed. https://www.change.org/petitions/dr-gerald-dick-please-support-japanese-groups-by-enforcing-waza-s-code-of-ethics

Jean Noel Schohn
3 Years Ago

merci et bravo les amis et amies de la nature continuer vous ete les defenceur de la vie sur terre bravo et encore bravo

Bobbie Voiceforthe AnimalsBonanno
3 Years Ago

shared to... Oceanic Rescue Committee and Awareness - ORCA

Theresa Chiu
3 Years Ago

The Paradigm Shift Requires Clarity About the Moral Baseline: Veganism If we are ever going to see a paradigm shift, we have to be clear about how we want the present paradigm to shift. We must be clear that veganism is the unequivocal baseline of anything that deserves to be called an “animal rights” movement. If “animal rights” means anything, it means that we cannot morally justify any animal exploitation; we cannot justify treating animals as human resources, however “humane” that treatment may be. We must stop thinking that people will find veganism “daunting” and that we have to promote something less than veganism. If we explain the moral ideas and the arguments in favor of veganism clearly, people will understand. They may not all go vegan immediately; in fact, most won’t. But we should always be clear about the moral baseline. If someone wants to do less as an incremental matter, let that be her/his decision, and not something that we advise to do. The baseline should always be clear. We should never be promoting “happy” or “humane” exploitation as morally acceptable. The notion that we should promote “happy” or “humane” exploitation as “baby steps” ignores that welfare reforms do not result in providing significantly greater protection for animal interests; in fact, most of the time, animal welfare reforms do nothing more than make animal exploitation more economically productive by focusing on practices, such as gestation crates, the electrical stunning of chickens, or veal crates, that are economically inefficient in any event. Welfare reforms make animal exploitation more profitable by eliminating practices that are economically vulnerable. For the most part, those changes would happen anyway and in the absence of animal welfare campaigns precisely because they do rectify inefficiencies in the production process. And welfare reforms make the public more comfortable about animal exploitation. The “happy” meat/animal products movement is clear proof of that. We would never advocate for “humane” or “happy” human slavery, rape, genocide, etc. So, if we believe that animals matter morally and that they have an interest not only in not suffering but in continuing to exist, we should not be putting our time and energy into advocating for “humane” or “happy” animal exploitation. Welfare reforms and the whole “happy” exploitation movement are not “baby steps.” They are big steps–in a seriously backward direction. There are some animal advocates who say that to maintain that veganism is the moral baseline is objectionable because it is “judgmental,” or constitutes a judgment that veganism is morally preferable to vegetarianism and a condemnation that vegetarians (or other consumers of animal products) are “bad” people. Yes to the first part; no to the second. There is no coherent distinction between flesh and other animal products. They are all the same and we cannot justify consuming any of them. To say that you do not eat flesh but that you eat dairy or eggs or whatever, or that you don’t wear fur but you wear leather or wool, is like saying that you eat the meat from spotted cows but not from brown cows; it makes no sense whatsoever. The supposed “line” between meat and everything else is just a fantasy–an arbitrary distinction that is made to enable some exploitation to be segmented off and regarded as “better” or as morally acceptable. This is not a condemnation of vegetarians who are not vegans; it is, however, a plea to those people to recognize their actions do not conform with a moral principle that they claim to accept and that all animal products are the result of imposing suffering and death on sentient beings. It is not a matter of judging individuals; it is, however, a matter of judging practices and institutions. And that is a necessary component of ethical living. If we take the position that an assessment that veganism is morally preferable to vegetarianism is not possible because we are all “on our own journey,” then moral assessment becomes completely impossible or is speciesist. It is impossible because if we are all “on our own journey,” then there is nothing to say to the racist, sexist, anti-semite, homophobe, etc. If we say that those forms of discrimination are morally bad, but, with respect to animals, we are all “on our own journey” and we cannot make moral assessments about, for instance, dairy consumption, then we are simply being speciesist and not applying the same moral analysis to nonhumans that we apply to the human context. When we discuss veganism with vegetarians or other consumers of animal products, we should never convey the message that we think that they are “bad” people. We should instead focus on how any form of animal exploitation is inconsistent with the moral principle that they themselves claim to hold: namely, that animals are members of the moral community and that the imposition of suffering and death on any member of that community–human or nonhuman–requires a compelling justification. And whatever constitutes a compelling justification, taste preferences, convenience, fashion sense, etc., do not. Finally, we should always be clear that animal exploitation is wrong because it involves speciesism. And speciesism is wrong because, like racism, sexism, homophobia, antisemitism, classism, and all other forms of human discrimination, speciesism involves violence inflicted on members of the moral community where that infliction of violence cannot be morally justified. But that means that those of us who oppose speciesism necessarily oppose discrimination against humans. It makes no sense to say that speciesism is wrong because it is like racism (or any other form of discrimination) but that we do not have a position about racism. We do. We should be opposed to it and we should always be clear about that. Veganism is about nonviolence. It is about not engaging in harm to other sentient beings; to oneself; and to the environment upon which all beings depend for life. In my view, the animal rights movement is, at its core, a movement about ending violence to all sentient beings. It is a movement that seeks fundamental justice for all. It is an emerging peace movement that does not stop at the arbitrary line that separates humans from nonhumans. Changing a hierarchical paradigm of pervasive exploitation that has dominated for millenia requires a great deal of hard work. And that hard work requires clarity. ****** If you are not vegan, please consider going vegan. It’s a matter of nonviolence. Being vegan is your statement that you reject violence to other sentient beings, to yourself, and to the environment, on which all sentient beings depend. The World is Vegan! If you want it. Gary L. Francione Professor, Rutgers University ©2012 Gary L. Francione http://www.abolitionistapproach.com/?s=baby+steps&submit=Search


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