by Mary Ann DeSantis
Researchers studying marine sciences and global ocean issues have a valuable resource: yacht owners. Many of the magnificent vessels cruising the Intracoastal Waterway and beyond quietly contribute to oceanic research and conservation efforts through the International SeaKeepers Society, a nonprofit organization headquartered in Coral Gables.
Founded in 1998 by a small group of yacht owners who were alarmed at the deteriorating conditions of the world’s oceans, the SeaKeepers began working with scientists to collect data for marine preservation and ocean restoration.
“SeaKeepers enables the yachting community to take full advantage of their unique potential to advance marine sciences using yachts as the platform,” said Michael Moore, Chairman of the Board of Directors.
The early member yachts, dubbed SeaKeepers Discovery Yachts, had to be modified for scientific instruments. Today, however, the SeaKeeper Drifter—awater-monitoring device that floats on the ocean’s surface—is easily deployed from member yachts, and data is collected to enhance weather forecasts, understand ocean currents and determine patterns of oceanic debris. The device can even assist in hurricane prediction models. The information is transmitted to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), which has an urgent need for information amid growing budget cuts.
“SeaKeepers has expanded the mission greatly from ocean monitoring to enhancing scientific ocean study, including shark tagging, coral reef studies, deep ocean studies and even genome sequencing,” explained Richard Snow, President & CEO. “Although our mission is still about advocacy, we’ve amplified the program to raise awareness. We want to inspire people to help protect, preserve and restore our world’s oceans.”
For information, visit www.seakeepers.org.