Working with the yachting community to promote globally-significant oceanographic research, conservation and education to protect the seas has been the mission of the International SeaKeepers Society since it started in 1998. Celebrating its Emerald Anniversary, this Coral Gables, Florida-headquartered non-profit organization continues to work with yachts and scientists as a vital part of its programming.
“The organization’s initial focus was the development and use of instrumentation on yachts to monitor marine conditions throughout the world’s oceans,” explains Sarah Hernandez, the Society’s marketing and public relations manager. “Today, SeaKeepers continues to work closely with yacht owners and crew to coordinate research and outreach activities that reflect the yacht owner’s ocean-related interests. From where we began to where we are now, we have been able to expand from ocean monitoring to using yachts as the platform for all types of ocean research. This eliminates 90 percent of costs for scientists and creates new innovations in ocean science including genome sequencing, shark and fish tagging, coral studies and more.”
Highlights in SeaKeepers two-decade history include awarding the organization’s highest award to accomplished ocean and sealife environmentalists. These include 2014 awardee Wendy Benchley, wife of Jaws author Peter Benchley, who advocates for the protection of sharks, and 2015 recipient Fabien Cousteau, grandson of famed ocean explorer Jacques Cousteau and a renowned ocean conservationist in his own right. Programming-wise, SeaKeepers has enjoyed some memorable and influential trips. One of these is a week-long research expedition aboard the mobile biomedical laboratory DISCOVERY Yacht Copasetic and supporting its research for PBS’s special, ‘Sponges: Oldest Creatures in the Sea?’
“For the coming year and for years to come, SeaKeepers aims to complete expeditions with new vessels in both local and international locations. We have already expanded with our SeaKeepers West Coast and SeaKeepers Asia chapters in 2016 and we look forward to further expanding our efforts through these partners,” says Hernandez.