Whale and Ocean Conservation through Research and Public Education

Ocean Alliance, Inc., a 501(c)3 organization, was founded in 1971 by biologist Roger Payne. Led by Dr. Payne and CEO Iain Kerr, Ocean Alliance collects a broad spectrum of data on whales and ocean life relating particularly to toxicology, behavior, bioacoustics, and genetics. From that data we work with our scientific partners to advise educators and policy makers on wise stewardship of the oceans to: reduce pollution, prevent the collapse of marine mammal populations, maintain human access to fish and other sea life, and promote ocean and human health.Ocean Alliance

Ocean Alliance is concerned with the conservation of whales and all sea life, as well as human impacts on the marine environment. Through the Ocean Alliance program the Voyage of the Odyssey, we were able to focus on measuring the concentrations of synthetic contaminants that adversely affect the world’s oceans and its marine species. Ocean Alliance is also working to reverse humanity’s general apathy about the fundamental importance of the oceans and the degree to which the future of all life on earth is dependent upon them.

Ocean Alliance believes that the oceans and their marine inhabitants are a common, unique, and irreplaceable asset of humanity. We believe that conservation should be a state of mind. We try to facilitate this process by linking the frontiers of marine science to educational institutions and homes around the world. We aspire to overcome obstacles to change, by sharing resources at an international level, realizing that a more informed and active society is a precondition to positive change and a necessity for a more responsive and coherent system of ocean governance.

  • Ocean Alliance has been a global leader in whale research and conservation since 1970, when it was founded as The Long Term Research Institute.
  • Ocean Alliance staff and students have been pioneers of many of today’s research methodologies that are used worldwide to study live cetaceans.
  • Ocean Alliance runs the longest continuous study in the world based on known individual southern right whales — an endangered species.
  • Ocean Alliance runs an established network of professional contacts and affiliations, which make possible unique collaborations with the some of the world’s leading scientists.
  • Ocean Alliance’s has been involved at every level in the development and production of award winning films, TV, an IMAX film, and other educational media.
  • Ocean Alliance has been featured in over 40 documentaries and has won numerous awards and honors for such films.
  • Ocean Alliance continues to be influential at international conferences and meetings.
  • Ocean Alliance founder Dr. Roger Payne co-discovered in 1967 that humpback whales sing songs.
  • Ocean Alliance founder Roger Payne discovered that blue and fin whales make sounds that can carry across oceans.
  • Ocean Alliance generates innovative, groundbreaking, multi-ocean initiatives such as The Voyage of the Odyssey.
Ocean Alliance is a 501(c)3 organization founded in 1971 by Roger Payne. Dr. Payne has conducted research on whales in all the oceans of the world, and has been an eloquent spokesman for their welfare for over three decades. In the early 1970s, he was among the first to sound the alarm about the threat of worldwide pollution of the oceans. In the January 1979 issue of National Geographic, Dr. Payne said, “Pollution has replaced the harpoon as a mortal threat to whales, and in its way can be far more deadly.”

Believing that rigorous science and widespread public education are basic requirements for long-term conservation, Dr. Payne founded Ocean Alliance for the purpose of carrying out both these global missions. Ocean Alliance has research partnerships in South America and a research vessel, Odyssey (a 93-foot, steel, ocean-going ketch), that operates in all the world’s oceans from her home base in Gloucester, Massachusetts.

Ocean Alliance collects a broad spectrum of data on whales and ocean life relating particularly to toxicology, bioacoustics, behavior, and genetics. For over 40 years, we have studied a population of right whales that use the bays of the Natural Protected Area of Península Valdés (Chubut, Argentina) as a nursery ground–working closely for the past fourteen years with our sister organization, Instituto de Conservación de Ballenas (ICB), in Argentina. This is the longest continuous study of any great whale based on known individuals. We conduct whale toxicology studies in partnership with the Wise Laboratory of Environmental and Genetic Toxicology, at the University of Southern Maine. Ocean Alliance’s diverse research data provides policy makers, NGOs, educators, and students with information about ocean pollution and the health of marine mammals and ecosystems. This data has been the basis for many conservation success stories.

In recent years, Ocean Alliance has widened its interests to include the study of marine pollution using whales as a model subject. The amounts of harmful chemicals making their way into the sea by land and by air is of great concern. Understanding the health of the oceans is more important now than ever before. Recognizing the urgency for information to better deal with this problem, in 2000, Ocean Alliance set out to do what no government agency or organization had ever attempted to do before: spend 5½ years aboard their research vessel, Odyssey, collecting samples from sperm whales from around the world, and analyzing their levels of heavy metals and synthetic contaminants; thus, achieving a baseline study of the levels of pollution in the oceans. An Executive Summary Report of the Voyage of the Odyssey was recently made public at the meeting of the International Whaling Commission in Morocco.

On July 17, 2010, in the wake of the BP oil spill disaster, Odyssey set sail from Portland, Maine, en route to the Gulf of Mexico, to conduct toxicology studies to assess the impact of the oil crisis in the Gulf on whales and ocean life. Odyssey’s research team will conduct studies in both the Atlantic Ocean (both before and after the oil arrives) and in the Gulf of Mexico in both oiled and non-oiled areas.

For almost 40 years, Ocean Alliance has made a positive difference in this world. Our dedicated staff works hard to carry out its on-going mission and to do so with scientific integrity foremost. We pledge our continued commitment to help protect and preserve the marine environment on which the lives of all of us, people as well as whales, are utterly dependent.