5 Brilliant Groups Protecting Our Oceans

Our planet's oceans are essential to life, yet they face numerous ecological threats resulting from human activity. Dedicated conservation groups across the globe confront these challenges through scientific research, public outreach, and habitat restoration efforts, bringing people together to preserve the seas. The organizations profiled here, arranged in no particular order, are working diligently to safeguard marine life.

#1 in our rundown is Mission Blue, created by legendary oceanographer Dr. Sylvia Earle to inspire exploration and conservation of the world's waters. The group creates media campaigns to build support for a global network of protected Hope Spots, areas which are crucial for marine biodiversity. Its photographs, documentary videos, and informative articles highlight the rich ecosystems and natural beauty of these locations, and celebrate the local organizations working to preserve them.

Mission Blue undertakes expeditions to further explore and document its Hope Spots, assisting with research on important ecosystems like the seagrass thickets of Spain's Balearic Islands, or the Costa Rican Thermal Dome. The group's Emmy-winning Netflix documentary, narrated by Dr. Earle, examines the impacts of human activity on ocean ecosystems and makes an impassioned case for action.

Entry #2 is the Tethys Research Institute, a non-profit organization supporting marine conservation through science and public outreach. Headquartered at the Civic Aquarium of Milan, the group studies and monitors the large marine vertebrates of the Mediterranean, from fin whales to giant devil rays. Tethys has conducted pioneering research on the health of the area's cetacean populations, generating one of the largest-ever datasets on the subject.

In addition to its scientific contributions, Tethys helps to organize conservation measures like the Pelagos Sanctuary for Mediterranean Marine Mammals, an oceanic protected zone supporting diverse populations of cetaceans. Public awareness initiatives such as the Digital Whales augmented reality exhibit, or the group's project for gathering reports of local dolphin sightings, help to spread interest in environmental preservation and citizen science.

Our #3 is eXXpedition. This not-for-profit organization, led by environmentalist and skipper Emily Penn, runs all-female sailing expeditions to investigate the problem of ocean plastic pollution. Participants gather data on marine currents, sample subsurface distributions of chemicals, and analyze seafloor sediments, helping to illuminate how garbage spreads through the oceans. The group takes a multidisciplinary approach that brings together artists, activists, scientists, and many others, forming collaborations to seek solutions to the pollution crisis.

Working to raise awareness of marine pollution as well as gender imbalances in science and sailing, eXXpedition's Ambassadors share stories from the voyages and describe how they promote sustainability in their careers. The trips at sea include educational outreach alongside research, as well as conservation activities like beach cleanups. The group's SHiFT Platform provides a wealth of information on ways that interested individuals can reduce plastic use in everyday life.

At #4 we have Washington CoastSavers, an alliance of partners and volunteers dedicated to keeping the region's beaches clean of ocean debris, through coordinated trash pickups, education, and prevention. The group's annual cleanup events mobilize thousands of volunteers along the state's coastline to remove plastic, and its Adopt a Beach program organizes regular garbage removal along the Strait of Juan de Fuca.

In collaboration with numerous other local conservation groups, CoastSavers has produced the REthink video series, which aims to inspire waste reduction by offering creative ideas for reusing trash. The series also shares information about the environmental impacts of ocean debris, and about local trash disposal policies. CoastSavers produces outreach events like its Trashion Show to generate enthusiasm for cleaning up coastal ecosystems.

Ending our list at #5 is the North Carolina Coastal Federation, a member-supported nonprofit focused on protecting and restoring the seaside regions of the state. This organization works with local communities to mitigate environmental impact, installing features like rain gardens and permeable paving to absorb stormwater runoff, and conducting cleanup efforts to remove debris from the ocean and shoreline.

The Federation advocates for policies to protect coastal environments, opposing commercial development within fragile ecosystems and calling attention to chemical contamination in the state's waterways. It promotes the use of living shorelines, erosion buffers that also act as habitats for local species, and encourages restoration of the state's oyster populations. Through environmental education efforts like the YouthBuild service learning program, the organization nurtures young people's interest in conservation.