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Blue Ocean Society Co-founders Dianna Schulte and Jen KennedyAbout Us

The Blue Ocean Society for Marine Conservation's mission is to protect marine life in the Gulf of Maine through research, education and inspiring action.

Blue Ocean Society was founded by two whale watch naturalists, Jen Kennedy and Dianna Schulte, who were frustrated with the lack of translation of open ocean research into information that could be used by the public. We strive to learn more about the Gulf of Maine, and particularly an important habitat called Jeffreys Ledge, and then bring our research to the public through a variety of outreach programs. We hope by sharing information with the public and resource managers, more people will be inspired to learn more about the marine environment and help protect it.

While to many, the ocean appears clean and blue, especially at a distance, problems lurk in the form of marine debris such as plastics and “ghost” fishing gear, litter on the beaches, and a public that depends largely on the use of disposable products. In addition, the Jeffreys Ledge region, located just 20 miles off the NH/MA coast, supports a wealth of marine life, yet is a relatively understudied area.  Long-term studies on marine mammals such as endangered whales allow us to learn about whale behavior, population health, and preferred habitat, and promote activities that will help increase whale populations and overall ocean health. Blue Ocean Society fulfills a critical role in designing, implementing and effectively managing and overseeing projects that benefit living marine resources.

Blue Ocean Society’s major programs include:

Lost fishing gear cleanupProtecting marine mammals through ridding the marine environment of potentially harmful litter and other marine debris.

  • In 2013, we conducted 264 beach cleanups along the coastline from York, ME to Salisbury Beach, MA. This resulted in the removal of over 6 tons of debris from the coast.
  • Our program, the Marine Debris to Energy Project, in partnership with NH Sea Grant and UNH Cooperative Extension, has resulted in the removal and safe disposal of over 120 tons of derelict fishing gear since 2008.
  • We have over 20 groups (businesses, schools, Scout troops and individuals) committed to monthly beach cleanups at 20 sites from South Portland, ME to Salisbury, MA through our Adopt-a-Beach program. This makes beaches cleaner, and provides important data on marine pollution.
  • In 2014, we worked with several partners to conduct the first underwater lobster trap cleanup in New Hampshire waters, which resulted in the removal of 24 inactive traps, over 400 pounds of rope and the release of many invertebrates (including pregnant lobsters) who were caught in the traps.
  • Each fall, we organize the annual NH Coastal Cleanup, which involves over 1,000 volunteers in cleaning beaches on one day in September. This includes a student cleanup which involves up to 700 students in one day.

Fin whalesDocumenting important whale habitat and threats to whales.

  • We are onboard over 400 whale watch trips each year, documenting individual whales, sighting locations, behavior and conservation concerns. Our work allows us to monitor population health, habitat usage, and risks including entanglement and ship strikes.
  • Our long-term database of the whales near Jeffreys Ledge is the only one of its kind. It allows us to learn about this unique habitat- a place important for whales and other marine life to feed, along with several human uses such as whale watching, fishing and boating.

Inspiring the public to protect marine life through educational programs, our marine life touch tank and student internships.

  • We have welcomed over 21,000 visitors to our Center on Hampton Beach offering year round, low cost educational programing
  • We reach over 30,000 people per year during our hands-on educational programs on 4 whale watch vessels in NH and MA.
  • As the only New Hampshire-based marine mammal internship program, we have hosted 110 student interns since 2002 and provided a crucial step in these students’ career paths. Many of our interns have continued on to graduate programs or jobs in the marine biology field.
  • Our marine life touch tank has reached thousands who have come to learn about the coastal marine environment.
  • We bring our traveling programs to schools throughout New England – helping them learn about marine life through a visit inside our life-sized inflatable fin whale or by gently handling creatures at our traveling tide pools.

Inflatable WhaleIn 2007, Blue Ocean Society co-founders Jen Kennedy and Dianna Schulte were honored with the Gulf of Maine Visionary Award, which recognized their commitment to ocean health and education.

Our Goals:
Your support will help us accomplish these goals:

  • Expand our Adopt-a-Beach program further into Maine and Massachusetts, resulting in less litter impacting marine life in the Gulf of Maine, and more people inspired to become environmental stewards.
  • Educate thousands of students via free or discounted hands-on educational programs offered year-round at New England schools, and obtain a new inflatable whale to make our programs even more exciting and interactive.
  • Work with fishermen and relevant agencies and organizations to detect and dispose of “ghost” fishing gear on the mainland, underwater and out at the Isles of Shoals.
  • Offer once-in-a-lifetime internship experiences to college students from around the world, many of whom will go on to have a positive impact on marine life in the future.
  • Develop plans to obtain a Blue Ocean Society research vessel that will make us the premier whale research organization for the Jeffreys Ledge region in New England.

We need your support to continue saving whales and other marine mammals, documenting important whale habitat, educating students to become good environmental stewards, keeping beaches clean and inspiring the next generation of marine biologists and conservationists. Become a partner in our efforts in 2013 as we celebrate more than 10 years of leadership in marine mammal conservation.

Click here for more information about our location in the historic Gov. John Langdon House.

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Annual Reports

Thank you to Leone, McDonnell & Roberts, PA for providing accounting services!
Thank you to Leone, McDonnell & Roberts, PA for providing accounting services!

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