OVERVIEW: Save Our Seas Foundation invests in marine-related research, education, and conservation projects to protect ocean diversity. Its conservation work specifically emphasizes restoring sharks, rays, and skates. It operates as a “pass-through” foundation; in other words, while its core operations are covered by a private fund, it grantmaking is funded by incoming public contributions.
IP TAKE: Save Our Seas prioritizes restoring top marine predators. It has a grantmaking program, and remains active and public through an array of programs dedicated to public awareness and media work. It accepts unsolicited proposals, but all grantees must participate in public awareness and education campaigns as a condition to receiving funding.
PROFILE: Based in Geneva and founded in 2003, Save Our Seas Foundation has offices in South Africa, the United States, and the Seychelles. It serves as a conduit for conservation work on sharks, rays, and other iconic ocean species. The objective, according to its website, is to find projects that can draw widespread public attention and thereby create mass momentum for change. While the organization itself is not a research center, it boasts two "Shark Centres," facilitates its own programs, supports education projects, maintains four offices, and partners with and sponsors projects around the world. The foundation's grantmaking supports marine conservation through three grant opportunities.
The foundation has three main categories of grants. The Small Grant Fund supports one-year projects with less than $5,000 per project on average. Typically recipients include startup endeavors by young scientists, conservationists, and educators. The Keystone Fund, in contrast, is offered biennially to support larger, ongoing projects; Keystone grants range between $10,000 and $100,000. The foundation also awards photography grants and Keystone Special Project grants. Applicants are invited to submit online application forms.
Major marine predators hold special importance to Save Our Seas. The foundation’s media outreach prominently publicizes the observed declines in sharks, rays, and skate’s populations, and the harmful effect that their disappearance has on the greater ecosystems. To help stem the population decline, the foundation funds such projects as tagging and monitoring threatened shark populations. It also supports work to directly protect species, such as the sawfish in West Africa, by way of an alert team that watches for by-catches and sales.
Protection for the herbivores is also in the foundation’s repertoire. It sponsors sea turtle conservation in Kenya, for example, in addition to Florida research projects that work to electronically tag and track young sea turtles as they leave their nests. Other Save Our Seas-supported projects focus on corals, crustaceans, and the manatees of western Africa.
Lastly, Save Our Seas also emphasizes education. It strives to educate the public about the aquatic ecosystems that need protection through a network of marine centers, along with periodic events to spread the word about specific threatened species, like the “Spot a Ray” program at a World Ocean Day event at Mote Marine Lab in Sarasota, Florida. In fact, education and public affairs are so crucial to the foundation, that grantees are required to integrate awareness into their projects, and to work with Save Our Seas to promote their work.
- Michael Scholl, Chief Executive Officer