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WORLD OCEANS DAY – Celebrating the Vital Work of the Blue Oceans Society

Updated: Jun 9, 2019

by: Barbara Peterson June 8, 2019

On World Ocean’s Day, it’s the perfect time to look at the vital work being done at Blue Oceans Society. Climate change is having a significant impact on our coastal waters, and leading scientists agree that the Gulf of Maine is experiencing warming faster than any other part of the oceans worldwide over the last ten years.* Scientists who research the Gulf of Maine see what kinds of damages oceans around the globe may suffer in coming months and years. Studying the Gulf of Maine, then, is vastly important in developing our understandings of how we can protect marine life locally and worldwide.

Blue Ocean Society for Marine Conservation has been helping to protect the Gulf of Maine since 2001. Their research feeds into a growing database, useful for present and future studies. They are a community, nonprofit organization that has had and continues to have a positive impact in three major areas: keeping our oceans and beaches clean, learning and educating others about whales (which are important in and of themselves but are also an indicator species), and teaching school children and the public about marine life and whales.

One popular event Blue Ocean Society organizes and hosts is their beach cleanups. Over 200 times each year, they lead a group of volunteers from the public, schools, organizations, and corporations to pick up debris off local beaches. Since 2001, they have removed over 184,000 pounds of litter. Their citizen scientists record data on all the marine debris collected, which is later analyzed so they can gain a better understanding of how polluted beaches impact marine life and ocean health. Additionally, these cleanups help inspire people to take an interest in further action to protect the oceans.

Another effort they are engaged in to address ocean pollution is a Skip the Straw project. According to lead organizers and co-founders Jen Kennedy and Dianna Schulte, this project is an “important initiative because eight million tons of plastic enter the ocean every year, impacting marine life through entanglement, poisoning and starvation.” Over 1,700 straws were taken off beaches by volunteers in only one year, almost half from Hampton Beach alone. The Skip the Straw project aims to educate the public about the harm of single-use plastics to marine health, and to encourage people to reduce their use of these plastics, beginning with straws. Biodegradable, edible, and metal straws have been created and are now sold in many cafes and grocery stores to help the public stop using plastic ones.

Blue Ocean Society is involved in studying the behavior, habitat use, health, and populations of fin, humpback, and minke whales in the Gulf of Maine. Jen Kennedy and Dianna Schulte started this work back in 1995 where they met as trainees on a whale research internship in Gloucester, MA. After the internship the following year, Jen and Dianna started collecting unique data on whales, about 20 miles off the coast of New Hampshire on Jeffreys Ledge. Since then, they have helped over 5,000 students every year learn about the biology and behavior of whales. They use a life-sized inflatable whale, measuring 65 feet in length, to help students learn about them, including their bones, the filter-feeder systems, and the presence of microplastics found inside them.

Additionally, Blue Ocean Society hosts the most impressive and enjoyed whale watching trips in New England. They have more than 25,000 passengers each year, which helps connect the public with the beauty of marine life, inspiring many to want to help preserve it. Summer interns who come from all over the country work on these watches to collect data and to educate the passengers about the whales.

Educating the public is an important part of Blue Ocean Society’s work. Approximately 20,000 people come and learn about whales and other marine life at their Blue Ocean Discovery Center located on Hampton Beach, New Hampshire. The Center offers programs that teach people about marine life in the Gulf of Maine and about the issues they are facing as well as the issues marine life faces globally. Their touch tanks as well as the variety of exhibits on display help visitors form personal connections with marine life and lasting concern for the health of our oceans.

To promote their important work, the Blue Ocean Society hosts community fundraisers such as their annual 5K Run for the Ocean, Cruise for a Clean Ocean, and their New Hampshire Coastal Cleanup events. These family-friendly programs help inspire the public and school children to learn more and take action in support of marine and ocean sustainability. According to their website, Blue Ocean Society uses “interactive experiences [to] inspire more than 50,000 people each year to become marine life advocates.” They also put on yearly workshops for educators and scientists for professional development opportunities and ideas for educating others about marine life.

Blue Ocean Society is a 501c3, nonprofit organization based out of Portsmouth, New Hampshire. Their Discovery Center is located on Hampton Beach. Their work attracts volunteers who know how important it is that we all chip in to protect our beaches and oceans. They are ever grateful for the time, energy, and efforts of their volunteers, and can always use more hands to help with their Discovery Center’s summer educational events to teach thousands of visitors about whales and marine life. They also appreciate volunteers who are willing to help with their microplastics and sand sampling studies as well as their Skip the Straw campaign.

While not affiliated with other groups, the Blue Ocean Society regularly collaborates with scientists and organizations who advocate for and work to protect the health of our oceans. Their mission is to protect marine life in the Gulf of Maine through research, education, and inspiring action. They work to keep local beaches clean in order to prevent the pollution from entering the oceans. By collecting data, conducting research, and maintaining a database, they advance scientific knowledge about marine life and human impacts on ocean health and the wellbeing of marine life to protect not only the Gulf of Maine but oceans around the world.

Supporting Blue Ocean Society

Volunteers are always appreciated and needed for their many programs, events, and campaigns.

They are grateful for any level of donation people can give through their website.

Shopping at their online store for unique and amazing merchandise also supports their works.

Members, Affiliations, and Contact Information

Phone: 603-431-0260

Instagram: @blueoceansociety

Twitter: @BlueOceanSoc

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