Environmental issues endangering our oceans impact our lives exponentially with each passing year. Areas where we used to swim are often off limits. Fish we feasted on are unsafe for consumption or facing outright extinction. Science shows the health of the oceans is critically important to the sustenance of human life and there is much we need to learn about sea life below the surface, but how?
Due to the retirement of research vessels and the rising cost of vessel charter, it’s become increasingly difficult for scientists to obtain samples and collect research data.
The Boys and Girls Club of Newport, R.I doing a SeaKeeper art project in advance of boarding “Defiance” in Newport Harbor.

Enter The International SeaKeepers Society, which advances oceanographic research, and marine conservation through its foremost initiative, the DISCOVERY Yacht Program. Connecting directly with yacht owners, vessel costs (which can often take up about 90% of an expedition’s budget), are eliminated and scientists can dedicate those funds to maximize research potential. Its reach spans from chapters in the UK, Singapore and France….…but The International SeaKeepers Society happens to be headquartered in Coral Gables.

Scientist-led Expeditions provide yacht owners, guests, and crew the opportunity to participate in ongoing research while engaging with influential, well-established marine scientists. Think of an educational day out on the water with your child’s class or your favorite youth organization. The entry fee for membership is merely saying yes with the monetary costs being tax-deductable.
This is one arena where size does matter and while large yachts can embark on more complex missions for days, weeks or longer if they choose, there is great need for smaller vessels with shallow drafts that can get into areas larger yachts cannot.  In any body of water, anywhere in the world at any time of year, valuable research is needed, and liaisons will meet your vessel there.

Miami realtor, Aaron Goldstein expressed his love for the ocean and the bay, having been born and raised here.  “My kids volunteer for beach clean- ups but I felt frustrated and overwhelmed, wishing there was something more I could do.” A chance meeting with SeaKeepers Program Director Tony Gilbert in 2019 brought him the opportunities he was looking for and he was soon conducting shark tagging expeditions off Elliot Key and Fisher Island on his 24’ center console Sailfish. In response to the Massive Fish Kill of 2020, he did invaluable water sampling day trips with UM marine Biology Students and professors. ”I’m not a scientist,” says Aaron, “…but I’m helping in a way that matters and I feel a level of respect for the waters that comes along with owning a boat.

Don and Denise Bermant met on a scuba diving trip in Mexico in 1986. They divide their time between Key Largo and British Columbia, keeping boats in each locale.  They became acquainted with SeaKeepers during the four years it took to obtain permission to cruise to Cuba.  Seakeepers had been instrumental in acquiring governmental clearance during a flexible window of time in 2017 and arranged for a two-month underwater Photographic Expedition with the adventurous couple on their Fleming 78′. When the Bermants informed SeaKeepers that they’d be exploring Alaska one summer on their Fleming 65’, Tony put them together with a group of 4 renowned whale researchers on a project funded by the Carl Sagan Institute. “Hosting guests we’d never met before for an extended period of time on a small boat, was a fantastic experience”, Denise Bermant said. She told me fascinating stories of what they’d learned and witnessed during their missions, which I’d share with you, had I the space and time. \Suffice it to say that when SeaKeepers calls, the Bermants are happy to answer.

My enthusiasm for the program was fueled when I purchased a Mangusta 72” in 2014. I was planning a trip to the Bahamas and coordinated a day with a class of school children in Bimini. Though born and raised on the island, most of the 7-11th graders had never been on a boat before. We collected water samples, studied them under microscopes we’d brought onboard and launched a NOAA drifter and talked for hours. The kids left with a new appreciation for the oceans’ importance and awareness of environmental issues. They were changed and so was I, for the experience.
As a side:
(Drifters are buoys that ride along the surface of the ocean, collecting data on temperature, current, etc. with the information beamed to satellites and accessed by scientists the world over.)  Drifters at the time only lasted up to about 6 months. Our Bimini launch lasted nearly a year and was last seen around the Isle Of Wight, off the coast of England.  Modern drifters are solar powered and haver a far longer life at sea.
I was in New England that summer and hosted the Boys and Girls Club of Newport, Rhode Island.  As they disembarked after a similar mission , the kids excitedly rejoined their parents, giddily goading them to replace plastic with paper and grilling them on the meaning of sustainability and the difference between house hold pats and the vulnerable wildlife at sea, dependent on the actions we humans take.
The SeaKeepers motto, “ Research, Educate, Protect and Restore” has been embraced by business leaders, world renowned scientists and royalty since its inception in 1998. Founders, board members and early champions include Paul Allen, The Arison family, Michael Sailor, Alexander Dreyfoos, Michael Moore, Jim and Jan Moran, George Feldenkreis, Ambassador Steven Green, Prince Albert of Monaco,  Dr. Sylvia Earle  and Jean Michel and Fabien Cousteau.
Become a part of the solution while feeling tremendous satisfaction by calling  305-281-1497.  Ask about the DISCOVERY Yacht Program and welcome aboard!!