August 31, 2021 • News Announcements, Trip Reports
We are excited to announce a new partnership between Oceanic Society and Planet Oat Oatmilk that aims to raise awareness for ocean conservation and engage the public in actions that support healthier oceans.
As part of the Planet Oat Project – the brand’s commitment to a healthier planet – Planet Oat is supporting Oceanic Society’s work to inspire and empower people worldwide to take part in building a healthy future for the world’s oceans. Together we led a special expedition to Belize to explore and document the beautiful and threatened Mesoamerican Reef ecosystem in collaboration with local researchers and conservationists. Through multimedia digital storytelling, we are working to bring stories from the expedition to life for international audiences in ways that engage them in solutions to conservation problems.
The expedition team explores mangrove forests in Turneffe Atoll.
In August 2021, representatives from Planet Oat joined Oceanic Society staff and partners on a special expedition to Belize to explore the Mesoamerican Reef and document the ocean research and conservation work taking place there. The expedition team, which included Oceanic Society CEO Roderic Mast, filmmakers Ben Hamilton and Nainoa Langer, and director, writer, and host Sam Potter. Sam is a content creator based in Hawaii who has dedicated his platform to raising awareness and inciting action for ocean conservation and protection. The team began their journey by visiting the St. George’s Caye Research Station and Field School operated by the Belizean nonprofit ECOMAR, a long-term Oceanic Society partner. There they had the chance to participate in ECOMAR’s hands-on marine research studying sea turtles, manatees, dolphins, and other marine species. They also spoke with ECOMAR founders Linda and John Searle to learn about their work, including a sea turtle educational display recently funded by Oceanic Society.
ECOMAR founder Linda Searle and Oceanic Society CEO Roderic Mast pose with a copy of the State of the World’s Sea Turtles (SWOT) Report. ECOMAR will use content from the SWOT program as part of a new educational display that was supported by Oceanic Society.
Next, the expedition team headed further offshore to Turneffe Atoll, the location of the former Oceanic Society field station. Here they had the chance to learn about how Oceanic Society’s more than 20 years of research, volunteer programs, and eco-tours contributed to the creation of Turneffe Atoll Marine Reserve. They also spoke with representatives from Turneffe Atoll Sustainability Alliance and Turneffe Atoll Trust to hear about current conservation goals and challenges in the atoll.
The group also took time to see and document Belize’s amazing marine life while scuba diving and snorkeling, and saw coral reefs, sea turtles, manatees, dolphins, sharks, and much more, including a visit to the legendary Great Blue Hole.
A member of the Belize expedition team dives near a large loggerhead sea turtle in Turneffe Atoll.
The main objective of the Oceanic Society and Planet Oat expedition to Belize was to film and photograph ocean wildlife and conservation efforts in ways that can be used to engage a global audience in ocean conservation solutions. A series of short films and other multimedia stories are now in production by Oceanic Society and Planet Oat for release online in September 2021. Those stories will not only aim to raise awareness about ocean conservation issues, but also to engage people worldwide in individual actions that support healthier oceans, a core component of Oceanic Society’s mission.
Director, writer, host, and social media influencer Sam Potter (@captainpotter) is part of the storytelling team that is working to create educational and engaging stories from the expedition.
Planet Oat’s support of Oceanic Society comes as part of their Planet Oat Project, an effort to help the world we live in through water, land, and wildlife efforts. In addition to Oceanic Society, Planet Oat is also supporting the work of Clean Trails, Sheldrick Wildlife Trust, and One Tree Planted.
Oceanic Society, the oldest U.S. nonprofit organization dedicated to ocean conservation, was selected for support due to our mutual interest in engaging consumers in daily behaviors that support healthier oceans, such as reducing plastic pollution, fighting climate change, and making sustainable food choices.
“One of the best ways that people can reduce their carbon footprint and support healthier oceans is to adopt a more plant-based diet by limiting meat and dairy,” said Oceanic Society vice president of outreach Brian Hutchinson. “We’re excited to partner with Planet Oat because their products offer everyday solutions for people looking to reduce their carbon footprint. Together we have the potential to reach and engage a larger audience than either of us would on our own.”
Members of the Belize expedition and staff from ECOMAR at St. George’s Caye.
Note: All members of the Belize expedition team were fully vaccinated against COVID-19 prior to the expedition. They followed all national and international requirements as well as CDC guidance for vaccinated individuals to reduce the spread of COVID-19 during the expedition, including mask wearing, social distancing, and testing.