- Ten Grants Made in 2021 Support Projects for Marine Animals, Ocean Health and Conservation
- Fund Grants Since 2003 Support 541 Different Marine-Specific Conservation Projects on All Seven Continents
London (January 26, 2022): The SeaWorld Conservation Fund has announced it has reached a milestone of more than $19 million in grants to organisations focused on the conservation of animals and their ecosystems. This includes 10 new grants made in 2021 for marine-specific programs spanning animal conservation and crisis, marine fish sustainability, marine aquatic debris clean-up, preservation of freshwater habitats, and a project to end lethal fishing gear entanglements by advancing rope less fishing. Various marine animal species directly benefitting from these 2021 grants include penguins, dolphins, porpoises, and whales. Since its creation in 2003, more than 541 different marine-specific conservation projects across all seven continents have received funding and scientific support through fund grants.
‘We are honoured to support these wonderful programs and the committed people behind them that make a real difference in the preservation of species and their habitats,” said Dr. Chris Dold, President of the SeaWorld Conservation Fund and Chief Zoological Officer of SeaWorld. “What makes us different is that we offer more than financial support. Our recipients have access to the large and diverse populations of animals in our care presenting opportunities to study, learn and apply findings to populations in the wild. Our experienced team, from animal care specialists to veterinarians and nutritionists, to researchers and scientists, are also available anytime to recipient organizations to consult and collaborate.”
The 2021 grants awarded to marine-related animal and ecosystems projects include:
Rescue and Rehabilitation of Southern African Penguins
Marine animal rescue and conservation is fundamental to the SeaWorld mission. It has rescued more than 39,000 marine animals, making SeaWorld one of the largest marine animal rescue organisations in the world. Fund grants further this mission by supporting other organisations that share the same cause.
In 2021, a grant was made to the Southern African Foundation for the Conservation of Coastal Birds (SANCCOB) to support their African Penguin Chick Bolstering Program and Cape Cormorant disaster response efforts.
“African seabirds and their marine environments face many ongoing threats and the support provided by the SeaWorld Conservation Fund is helping us bring many endangered species back from the brink of extinction,” said Ronnis Daniels, Resource Development Management of SANCCOB. “For example, our African Penguin Chick Bolstering Project is critical to the overall biodiversity management plan for the African penguin that was listed as endangered in 2010. In our program we rescue abandoned African penguin eggs and chicks, incubate the eggs, and hand-rear the chicks, providing the highest standard of veterinary care until they are strong enough for release back to the wild, where they can contribute to the growth of the endangered population.”
Protecting Marine Habitats
The Fund supports projects that protect marine habitats as land and marine animal populations continue to face threats from both natural and man-made destruction. The 2021 grant recipients addressing these crises include:
- Audubon Florida for marsh and prairie restoration at Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary
- Tampa Bay Watch for the community action and partnership to reduce marine debris in Tampa Bay
- Rising Tide Conservation – Saving the Ocean One Fry at a Time two grants were made, one for the development of culture methods for marine ornamental fishes and the other for developing larviculture protocols for sustainable production of coral reef fishes
- Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution for the ending of lethal fishing gear entanglements by advancing rope less fishing
Advancing Research of Marine Animals
The Fund supports organisations whose species research leads to healthier and more biodiverse populations in the future. One such 2021 grant recipient is the Amazon River Dolphin Conservation Program to help further their work in population surveys and photo identification of dolphins in the Lower Rio Negro Region of Brazil.
Suzanne Smith, Executive Director of the Amazon River Dolphin Conservation Program said, “Our mission is to conserve the endangered Amazon River dolphin and its environment through research, education and collaboration and the support provided through the SeaWorld Conservation Fund is vital to helping us continue our important work. Very little is known about this population of river dolphin but through collaboration with the Brazilian government, and residents of riverside communities, we are working together to preserve this species and its environment for years to come.”
Other organizations receiving 2021 grants in species research include:
- Cetacean Action Treasury for a pilot project to test viability of detecting Vaquita porpoise presence through Environmental DNA (eDNA)
- Norwegian Orca Survey for the ‘Keeping up with Norwegian Orcas’ program which continues a long running photo identification and DNA study of killer whales throughout Norway
About the SeaWorld Conservation Fund
Established in 2003, the SeaWorld Conservation Fund, referred previously as the Fund, is a 501(c)(3) non-profit private foundation that supports grassroots conservation projects that make a difference in species research, habitat protection, conservation education, and animal rescue and rehabilitation. It has provided more than $19 million in grants to provide financial and scientific support to 1,391 different marine and land-based animal conservation and ecosystem projects on all seven continents. More than 100 different species have been helped through these grants. Funding comes through a variety of sources including contributions by SeaWorld’s corporate entity, SeaWorld Entertainment, and from the parks via roundups at the register, merchandise sales, and special events. Corporate partners contribute to the Fund, and consumers can support the cause by making donations in the parks or online.
SeaWorld Entertainment, Inc. covers all expenses and overhead for the Fund. This enables it to return 100 percent of every penny donated directly to the projects supported.
Grant applications are accepted annually, though 2022-2023 grant applications are by invitation only. Both one-time and multi-year support is provided for recipient organizations.
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