Covering more than 70 percent of the Earth's surface, the world's oceans harbor fantastic biodiversity, feed over a billion people, employ hundreds of millions, enable passage for over 90 percent of global trade, increasingly provide energy for the global economy, and serve to inspire humanity in infinite ways.
Yet, oceans and the species that depend on them— including humans—face an uncertain future. The combined effects of overfishing, serial depletion of marine species, poorly managed resource extraction, rising seas, and warming waters have contributed to the loss of a third of the world's coral reefs, 90 percent of the ocean's top predators, and the collapse of its most productive fisheries.
While the ocean is vast, less than one percent is truly protected and the majority of marine biodiversity exists adjacent to our coasts—areas where human dependence is greatest and conservation efforts are needed most. Throughout the world, many countries lack sufficient capacity to conserve and manage the vast wildlife aggregations, marine biodiversity, and fisheries that are sustained in these near-shore waters.
The Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) is filing this capacity gap by investing in ocean protection, sustainable fisheries, and marine species conservation across the waters of 23 countries and all 5 oceans. With several hundred marine scientists and conservationists on staff, WCS tests and applies innovative solutions for measurable conservation outcomes. Our core strategy is to:
- Protect Key Habitats
- End Coastal Overfishing
- Save Marine Mammals, Sharks and Rays
We support these core strategies with a strong foundation of science to discover, innovate and scale solutions, as well as outreach via the New York Aquarium to educate, inspire and increase political commitment for change.
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Antongil Bay is one of the most important breeding grounds for humpback whales. Thirteen species of shark swim its waters.
The heart of this marine and terrestrial complex is the Bering Strait, the gateway between the Arctic Ocean and the Pacific. Whales and walruses, caribou and musk oxen, and vast flocks of migratory birds live here.
The world’s largest population of leatherback turtles nests on Gabon and Congo beaches, and humpback whales breed in the waters.
Located at the heart of the largest coral reef system in the Western Hemisphere, this seascape nurtures rays, turtles, and sharks. Nassau grouper gather here in massive numbers to spawn.
Located in the middle of the Java Sea, Karimunjawa National Park was re-zoned to accommodate the needs of wildlife and local people.
Kenya’s marine ecosystems range from mangroves and coastal wetlands to lagoons, fringing coral reefs, and open ocean.
Local communities manage this seascape in the Coral Triangle through traditional ownership rights to land and sea.
New York’s waters encompass an extraordinary array of habitats that shelter migratory whales, sea turtles, sharks, and seabirds.
At the northeast edge of the Mozambique Channel, which divides Madagascar from mainland Africa, sits Nosy Be Island and its rich seascape. These waters host a variety of life, including whales, dolphins, and sharks, as well as seagrasses, coral, and vital mangroves.
This wild, remote expanse provides critical feeding and breeding habitat for penguins, elephant seals, and southern right whales.
The North Sulawesi-Halmahera seascape is located in the heart of the spectacular Coral Triangle.
Sea turtles rely on nesting and feeding habitats in offshore waters and on island beaches along Nicaragua’s Caribbean coast.
This coastal region supports a seascape of barrier and fringing coral reefs, shallow lagoons, and abyssal slopes.
Thriving schools of fish, sharks, and turtles swim Fiji’s vibrant reefs. As coastal populations grow, Fiji is finding new ways to conserve marine resources.
Northwestern Sumatra’s coral reefs teem with fish, including the rare and unusual megamouth shark.
Whales, sea turtles, sharks, and dolphins are becoming rare sights in the world’s waters. WCS works to curb the threats to their survival, which include commercial hunting, pollution, habitat destruction, and entanglement in fishing gear.
From the Newsroom
Coral reefs are in trouble. A newly released paper in Nature, authored in part by WCS scientists, asserts that fish are a key ingredient to their health and recovery. Click image to enlarge.
A new law announced by the Government of Madagascar will provide a sanctuary for 19 shark species.
Using new technology, WCS and Woods Hole will start monitoring whales in the New York Bight to understand their interaction with humans, and what we can do to protect them.
By collecting and analyzing the DNA of 60 blue whales, a group of scientists determined there may be two distinct populations in the southeastern Pacific Ocean. This information could help inform an effective protection plan for this endangered species.
Caleb McClennen, WCS Executive Director for Marine Conservation, believes it is time we commit ourselves to expanding global ocean protection. The world's waters are in need of the same conservation efforts that have created many protected parks on land.