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Biologist Roger Payne founded Ocean Alliance in 1971 as a 501(c)3 organization. Ocean Alliance, directed by Dr. Payne and Iain Kerr, collects data about whales and ocean life regarding toxicology, behavior, bioacoustics, and genetics. With scientific partners, the organization helps advise educators and policy makers on 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 has research partnerships in South America and a research vessel, Odyssey, that operates in all the world’s oceans from the Gloucester home base.
In recent years, Ocean Alliance has broadened to include the study of marine pollution using whales as a model subject. Recognizing the urgency of information to better address the issue of harmful chemicals getting into the sea, in 2000 Ocean Alliance spent over 5 years aboard Odyssey. Researchers collected samples from whales around the world, analyzing their levels of metals and synthetic contaminants.
From the group’s website: “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.”