People need healthy oceans to survive and to thrive. Oceanic Society works to improve ocean health by addressing the root cause of its decline—human behavior. Simply put, the oceans are in trouble because people are putting too much into and taking too much out of them.
Through our conservation travel programs, marine research, and investments in conservation, we are inspiring and empowering people at all levels of society to become better stewards of ocean ecosystems.
Our mission is to conserve marine wildlife and habitats by deepening the connections between people and nature.
Since 1969, we have guided tens of thousands of travelers on life-changing journeys to explore the natural world. Again and again we have seen how conscientious nature tourism can transform the human relationship with the natural world by:
All effective conservation is based in good science. We study ocean wildlife and ecosystems to generate information that guides marine conservation. We also go beyond the biological sciences to study the science of human behavior change. Our research priorities include:
We provide financial and technical support to field-based marine conservation projects worldwide. Our investments are directed to projects that focus on flagship species, like sea turtles, marine mammals, and sharks, because these projects leverage the unique charismatic power of those species to engage people in addressing broader issues of ocean health.
Oceanic Society was founded in 1969 by a group of San Francisco Bay Area sailors and scientists who were concerned about the state of the oceans and decided to take action. Inspired by the events of their day—like the Santa Barbara oil spill of 1969, the publication of Rachel Carson's Silent Spring, and growing public concern for the environment—they came together to form Oceanic Society, the first non-profit organization dedicated to marine conservation. Their aim was to bring greater public awareness and political action to issues of ocean health and to grow the global community of people working toward improved ocean stewardship. They succeeded, creating thousands of ocean advocates who shaped the ocean conservation movement that exists today. By 1982, Oceanic Society had more than 70,000 members in five chapters under the leadership of Chris duPont Roosevelt.
By the late 1980s the conservation landscape had changed dramatically. There were dozens of effective organizations working for ocean conservation. Oceanic Society decided to combine forces with the Environmental Policy Institute, and in 1989 the organizations merged. In 1991, they merged again, this time with Friends of the Earth. Oceanic Society maintained its name and identity throughout these mergers, and in 1995 decided to break off again as its own nonprofit.
Oceanic Society helped put ocean conservation on the public radar. Some of our many accomplishments include: