Reducing Whale Strikes
Cutting River Plastic Waste

Crowdsourced Projects

In addition to our crowdsourced ideas, science specialists at the Benioff Ocean Initiative are working on a set of ocean change projects. See list of global priorities for improving ocean health identified by the Benioff Ocean Initiative in 2019.

Cutting River Plastic Waste

Rivers around the world funnel plastic waste into the ocean at an alarming rate, causing harmful effects on ocean animals, coastal economies, and human health. We are partnering with The Coca-Cola Foundation to provide a combined $3 million to address this problem. The fund will support an interdisciplinary team to (1) launch a pilot project that will capture plastic waste from a major polluting river and (2) create an accompanying communications campaign. Click below to learn more and to submit a proposal.
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Reducing Whale Strikes

We have assembled and funded four teams of scientists to collect fine-scale, near real-time data on whales in the Santa Barbara region using acoustic monitoring devices, thermal imaging cameras, and predictive modeling. The goal of this combined work is to provide managers and the shipping industry with timely information to reduce the risk of fatal ship strikes. Once established, this will serve as the West Coast’s first real-time actionable whale notification system.
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Other Initiatives


100 million sharks are killed every year. Research in the Benioff Ocean Initiative is targeted at better understanding shark biology so that we can better protect at-risk shark populations. Ongoing projects include tagging sharks using GPS trackers, using electronic scanners to study their behavior, and helping design more scientifically informed marine protected areas of sharks.

Marine parks

Scientists in the Benioff Ocean Initiative provided marine research to ocean conservation leaders to help inspire the recent expansion of the Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument – now the largest protected area (land or sea) on the planet. This ocean park is a safe haven for sharks, sea turtles, dolphins, and manta rays.

Pirate fishing

Up to one third of the wild seafood imported to the United States is illegally caught. Benioff Ocean Initiative scientists are working with technology innovators and global policy leaders to develop new tools to remotely track illegal fishing and efficiently share information that brings an end to this rampant problem for our global oceans.

Deep sea mining

A gold rush in the oceans may be about to begin. Over 1 million square kilometers of ocean have been marked out for deep sea mining. In the Benioff Ocean Initiative, we are collecting the best science and data available on when and where deep sea mining is starting and how it may influence ocean ecosystems.

Ocean extinctions

Up until now, there have been far fewer animal extinctions in the ocean than on land. This is exactly how we want to keep things. Research in the Benioff Ocean Initiative has carefully reviewed the causes and patterns of extinction in the oceans operating under the premise that the best way to limit ocean extinction is to understand it well.

Plastic pollution in our oceans

There are more than 5 trillion pieces of plastic pollution now circulating in the oceans and entering marine food webs. Scientists at the Benioff Ocean Initiative work with decision makers and educators to create science-based media on this important issue and to inspire changes in behavior and policy that can help reduce the amount of plastic polluting our oceans.

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