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 WasteRivers 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 $11 million to address this problem. The fund supports the Clean Currents Coalition, a network of interdisciplinary teams working across the globe to launch pilot projects to capture plastic waste from polluted rivers and create behavior change through community outreach campaigns. Click below to learn more.
Reducing Whale StrikesWe 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.
Sharks and AI
Although scientists have been studying sharks for years, we still don’t know exactly where and when juvenile sharks will show up along the California coast each year. In a collaborative effort to build our understanding of shark behavior and help our local Santa Barbara community safely enjoy the ocean, the Benioff Ocean Initiative, Salesforce AI Research and San Diego State University are using Artificial Intelligence (AI) and drone technology to detect great white sharks in coastal California waters.
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.
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.
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.