Save Our Seas Foundation
Formation23 September 2003; 20 years ago (2003-09-23) in Geneva, Switzerland
Legal statusPhilanthropic organization
PurposeResearch, conservation and education
  • Geneva, Switzerland (Headquarters)
Region served
FieldsSharks, rays and skates

The Save Our Seas Foundation is a philanthropic organization committed to protecting the world's oceans. It was founded in Geneva, Switzerland, on 23 September 2003.[1]

Focusing primarily on charismatic threatened wildlife (endangered elasmobranchs, or sharks, rays and skates) and their habitats, the Save Our Seas Foundation supports cutting-edge research, conservation and education projects worldwide.[2][3][4]


Approximately 400 species of sharks are found in the world.[5] They have inhabited our oceans for more than 500 million years, pre-dating the first dinosaurs by 100 million years,[6] and they appear in every single ocean, playing a crucial role in the health of the marine ecosystems.[7]

Due to threats such as overfishing, climate change, habitat loss and persecution, many shark populations have declined by more than 90%.[8] Over 100 million sharks are killed annually in commercial fishing,[9] resulting in such severe declines that more than a quarter of shark species and their relatives are considered Threatened or Near Threatened with extinction on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).[10]

Despite these declines, comparatively few shark species are listed under Appendix II of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), which poses strict controls on the international trade in listed species. The first sharks to be included were basking and whale sharks in 2003,[11] and by 2016 a total of 12 shark species and all manta and devil ray species were listed in Appendix II,[12][13] as well as sawfishes species in Appendix I. In 2019 a further 18 species were added (mako sharks, guitarfishes and wedgefishes).

While progress has been made to improve the management and conservation of shark populations globally, more than 80% of the international shark fin trade that drives shark fisheries is unregulated.[14] Most sharks and ray species are highly vulnerable to overfishing, as they grow slowly, mature late and live for a long time.[15] They typically fulfil an important role as predators in their ecosystems, so the decline of shark populations is likely to have a cascading effect on the abundance and distribution of other species, threatening ecosystems and food supplies with unpredictable consequences.[16]

Education and research centres

The Save Our Seas Foundation Shark Education Centre

Situated at the edge of False Bay in Cape Town, South Africa, the Save Our Seas Foundation Shark Education Centre was established in 2008 on the doorstep of the Dalebrook Marine Protected Area, a sanctuary zone within the greater Table Mountain National Park Marine Protected Area. The centre is open throughout the year for school and public visits.[17]

The Save Our Seas Foundation D’Arros Research Centre

The Save Our Seas Foundation D’Arros Research Centre (SOSF-DRC) is based on D’Arros Island, 225 kilometres south-west of Mahé, in the Amirantes, Seychelles. D’Arros Island is separated from St Joseph Atoll by a channel one kilometre (0.6 mile) wide and 70 metres (230 feet) deep. The marine environment surrounding D’Arros Island and St Joseph Atoll boasts a diversity of habitats and species, providing an outstanding ocean observatory for scientific studies.[18][19]

Since its inception in 2012, the centre has concluded numerous targeted research projects in collaboration with various international institutions. These diverse projects have focused mostly on threatened species such as sharks, turtles, seabirds, fish and corals, but have also included habitat assessments, feasibility surveys and oceanography.[20][21][22]

The Save Our Seas Shark Research Center USA

The Save Our Seas Shark Research Center USA is located in Florida, US, and was established at Nova Southeastern University in 2009. Nova Southeastern University is also home to the Guy Harvey Research Institute[23] and the Center of Excellence for Coral Reef Ecosystems Research,[24] both of which conduct collaborative research with the Save Our Seas Shark Research Center.[25]

It is specialises in taking integrative, multi-disciplinary approaches to research and conservation, which include combining high-tech genetics, genomics and field work to illuminate holistic aspects of shark and ray science that would be difficult to decipher using single-discipline approaches alone.[26][27]

In February 2019, scientists decoded the genome of the white shark and discovered an astonishing insights that may explain why these sharks have survived over millennia.[28] This discovery may have an impact on how we understand and manage human age-related diseases in the future.[29]

Foundation grants

The Save Our Seas Foundation offers a series of grants dedicated mainly to projects on elasmobranchs (sharks, rays and skates). Most of these projects currently fall into the areas of research, conservation and education and are capable of attracting significant public attention, potentially increasing public and government awareness of the urgent need to protect the marine environment.[30][31][32][33]

Sawfish, wedgefish and guitarfish are some of the most threatened species in the oceans, but little is known about them.[34] Since 2017, the foundation has decided to focus on protecting this rare category of fishes.[35][36]


The foundation has several long-term partners: the Manta Trust,[37] the Bimini Biological Field Station Foundation,[38] Shark Spotters,[39] BC Whales,[40] and the Acoustic Tracking Array Platform (ATAP).[41] It provides funding and guidance for their projects, facilitates international cooperation among researchers and maintains an active communication link to forge a global conservation plan of action.[42][43][44]

See also


  1. ^ "Foundation/Story". Save Our Seas Foundation. Retrieved 13 February 2020.
  2. ^ News-and-stories (24 February 2020). "CMS COP13 concludes in India with major new actions for migratory species". United Nations Environment Programme. Retrieved 28 February 2020.
  3. ^ Howard, Brian Clark (4 March 2016). "Drones Spot Swarms of Sharks Around Stunning Island. A high-tech project provides new scientific insight into a Seychelles atoll". National Geographic. Archived from the original on 28 February 2020. Retrieved 28 February 2020.
  4. ^ Márquez, Melissa Cristina (10 February 2020). "World's 'Weirdest' Sharks And Rays On The EDGE Of Extinction". Forbes. Retrieved 28 February 2020.
  5. ^ "12 Sharks You Should Know". Ocean Conservancy. 29 July 2019. Retrieved 15 February 2020.
  6. ^ Jing, Zhang; Newport, Erin (1 August 2019). "Five jaw-dropping facts about sharks". Greenpeace International Story. Retrieved 15 February 2020.
  7. ^ Smith, Casey (28 July 2017). "Watch Our Favorite Shark Videos". National Geographic. Archived from the original on 15 February 2020. Retrieved 15 February 2020.
  8. ^ "Sharks at Risk" (PDF). Animal Welfare institute.
  9. ^ "New Study Says 100 Million Sharks Killed Annually". The Pew Charitable Trusts. Retrieved 15 February 2020.
  10. ^ "A quarter of sharks and rays threatened with extinction". IUCN. 21 January 2014. Retrieved 15 February 2020.
  11. ^ "Sharks and manta rays". CITES. Retrieved 15 February 2020.
  12. ^ "Eighteenth meeting of the Conference of the Parties". CITES. Geneva (Switzerland). 17–28 August 2019.
  13. ^ "A ray of hope for Mako sharks and rhino rays at CITES CoP18 – 18 threatened shark species added to Appendix II". WWF. Retrieved 15 February 2020.
  14. ^ "CITES CoP 2019: 18 endangered sharks and rays afforded protection". DownToEarth. Retrieved 15 February 2020.
  15. ^ "Sharks. Euselachii". Smithsonian Ocean. Retrieved 15 February 2020.
  16. ^ "New Report Finds Sharks Critical to Maintaining Healthy Oceans". OCEANA. Retrieved 15 February 2020.
  17. ^ "Save Our Seas Foundation Shark Education Centre". Save Our Seas Foundation. Retrieved 16 February 2020.
  18. ^ "Save Our Seas Foundation D'Arros Research Centre". Save Our Seas Foundation. Retrieved 16 February 2020.
  19. ^ Amla, Hajira (25 July 2014). "Seychelles island of D'Arros becomes an official nature reserve". Seychelles News Agency. Retrieved 28 February 2020.
  20. ^ ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies (17 September 2019). "Shark pups lose gains in stressed environments". Phys Org. Retrieved 28 February 2020.
  21. ^ Weideli, Ornella C.; Kiszka, Jeremy J.; Matich, Philip; Heithaus, Michael R. (2019). "Effects of anticoagulants on stable-isotope values (δ13C and δ15N) of shark blood components". Journal of Fish Biology. 95 (6): 1535–1539. doi:10.1111/jfb.14164. ISSN 1095-8649. PMID 31621068. S2CID 204757083.
  22. ^ Bonnelame, Betymie (10 November 2019). "Save Our Seas study finds that Seychelles' St. Joseph is healthy place for blacktip reef sharks". Seychelles News Retrieved 28 February 2020.
  23. ^ "Guy Harvey Research Institute". Nova Southeastern University. Retrieved 16 February 2020.
  24. ^ "Center of Excellence for Coral Reef Ecosystems Research". Nova Southeastern University. Retrieved 16 February 2020.
  25. ^ "Save Our Seas Shark Research Center". Save Our Seas Foundation. Retrieved 16 February 2020.
  26. ^ Kiedaisch, Jill (22 February 2019). "Could Shark DNA Help Fight Cancer in Humans?". Popular Mechanics. Retrieved 28 February 2020.
  27. ^ Chung, Emily (25 August 2017). "Shark fins sold for soup in Canada include many at-risk species. Threatened whale shark found for sale in Vancouver". CBC News. Retrieved 28 February 2020.
  28. ^ Marra, Nicholas J.; Stanhope, Michael J.; Jue, Nathaniel K.; Wang, Minghui; Sun, Qi; Pavinski Bitar, Paulina; Richards, Vincent P.; Komissarov, Aleksey; Rayko, Mike; Kliver, Sergey; Stanhope, Bryce J.; Winkler, Chuck; O’Brien, Stephen J.; Antunes, Agostinho; Jorgensen, Salvador; Shivji, Mahmood S. (2019). "White shark genome reveals ancient elasmobranch adaptations associated with wound healing and the maintenance of genome stability". PNAS. 116 (10): 4446–4455. Bibcode:2019PNAS..116.4446M. doi:10.1073/pnas.1819778116. PMC 6410855. PMID 30782839.
  29. ^ Karvelas, Patricia (21 February 2019). "Great white shark DNA decoded, offers hope for cancer treatment". Podcast. ABC. Retrieved 28 February 2020.
  30. ^ Reisewitz, Annie (22 June 2016). "Mapping out what manta rays call home". University of California. Retrieved 28 February 2020.
  31. ^ Handwerk, Brian (31 July 2008). "New Manta Ray Species Discovered, Expert Says". National Geographic. Archived from the original on 28 February 2020. Retrieved 28 February 2020.
  32. ^ Liang, John (8 August 2019). "New Video On The Threat Of Microplastics To Whale Sharks Released". Retrieved 28 February 2020.
  33. ^ Mccain, Nicole (8 December 2015). "Women study marine jobs". News24. Retrieved 28 February 2020.
  34. ^ Kyne, Peter M.; Jabado, Rima W.; Rigby, Cassandra L.; Dharmadi; Gore, Mauvis A.; Pollock, Caroline M.; Herman, Katelyn B.; Cheok, Jessica; Ebert, David A.; Simpfendorfer, Colin A.; Dulvy, Nicholas K. (10 June 2019). "The thin edge of the wedge: extremely high extinction risk in wedgefishes and giant guitarfishes". bioRxiv: 595462. doi:10.1101/595462. Retrieved 16 February 2020.
  35. ^ Valencia, Kristina (31 July 2019). "4 ORGANIZATIONS FIGHTING FOR OUR OCEANS". The Extravagant. Retrieved 28 February 2020.
  36. ^ Pulling, Brian W. (9 January 2019). "Call put out for public help to trace endangered sawfish". Cosmos Magazine. Retrieved 28 February 2020.
  37. ^ "The Manta Trust". Retrieved 17 February 2020.
  38. ^ "The Bimini Biological Field Station Foundation". Retrieved 17 February 2020.
  39. ^ "The Shark Spotters". Retrieved 17 February 2020.
  40. ^ "The BC Whales". Retrieved 17 February 2020.
  41. ^ "The Acoustic Tracking Array Platform (ATAP)". The South African Institute for Aquatic Biodiversity (SAIAB). Retrieved 17 February 2020.
  42. ^ Coates, Charlotte (18 October 2019). "Immotion announces new tiger shark immersive VR experience". Blooloop. www. Retrieved 28 February 2020.
  43. ^ Chambers, Dave (12 February 2019). "Hi-tech vision zeroes in on sharks lurking off Cape Town beaches". TimesLIVE. Retrieved 28 February 2020.
  44. ^ Keen, Eric (22 May 2017). "In British Columbia, a strange pattern in humpback whale behaviour raises the stakes for conservation". The Conversation. Retrieved 28 February 2020.