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How Oceanic Society Expeditions Supported Ocean Conservation in 2018-2019

By Wayne Sentman

Established in 1969, Oceanic Society is America’s oldest 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization dedicated to ocean conservation. Throughout our history we have seen how conscientious nature travel can drive conservation and connect people to nature in meaningful ways. Our expeditions have been a core component of how we pursue our mission for 50 years.

Each of our expeditions is designed with the intention to positively impact the natural areas and human communities we visit while also delivering transformative nature experiences for our travelers that deepen their connections to nature and promote the adoption of ocean-friendly “Blue Habits.” Moreover, any profits we earn are invested directly into our ocean research and conservation programs worldwide.

In the last three fiscal years, our travel programs have generated $1.57 million for ocean research and conservation programs. Here’s how it works.

Our Conservation Impact in FY19

From July 1, 2018 through June 30, 2019 Oceanic Society operated 42 conservation travel programs for 408 travelers across 16 countries. Through those programs we contributed $216,070 to ocean research and conservation efforts by our partners in the Caribbean, Coral Triangle, Kenya, Mexico, Micronesia, and beyond, and our travelers provided a total of 3,114 hours of volunteer time. Our contributions supported programs that address major ocean issues like plastic pollution and aim to conserve sea turtles, whales, mangroves, coral reefs, sharks, seabirds, and more.

An additional $373,242 in revenue generated through our expeditions and San Francisco Bay Area whale watching programs was invested into Oceanic Society’s global marine research and conservation programs including our State of the World’s Sea Turtles program, Blue Habits initiative, and the administration of our fiscally-sponsored projects. Total dollar contributions to research and conservation through travel programs were $589,312.


In June 2019 Oceanic Society led our first expedition to the western shores of Puerto Rico in partnership with local non-profit Isla Mar. Our group of eleven travelers were trained in fish and coral disease identification and participated in Isla Mar’s citizen science program. Together we collected data on reef health and fish populations and helped with coral restoration efforts. Beyond volunteer support, our visit also provided financial assistance to Isla Mar and their partners, including a local sea turtle conservation program. Click here for information on future expeditions to Puerto Rico.

A leatherback turtle hatchling in Trinidad. © Brian J. Hutchinson


In May 2019 Oceanic Society led a special expedition to Trinidad as part of our Five for 50 expedition series. In partnership with Nature Seekers, a local conservation organization, we visited the beaches that are home to the densest leatherback turtle nesting population on Earth. Our expedition not only provided financial support to Nature Seekers’ sea turtle research and conservation efforts, we also used our trip as a platform to communicate about sea turtle conservation and the issue of sustainable seafood through a short documentary video and social media campaign. Watch the film here.


Wayne Sentman is our director of conservation travel programs and an Oceanic Society naturalist since 1998. He is an experienced guide with a diverse background in marine mammal, seabird, and marine debris research. Wayne also co-teaches undergraduate field programs in Kenya on human-wildlife conflict and on the use of social media and art to raise public participation in conservation. He recently received a Master's in Environmental Management from Harvard University.


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