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Manta Ray

Our Story

Image by Hiroko Yoshii

Our Vision

Our Vision

Science with an impact.

Saving the ocean through science has always been the guiding vision of our Executive Director, Dr. Ellen Pikitch. For the last 18 years, our teams of scientists, staff, and students have gone to work each day striving to achieve that mission. 


We have a rich history of leading projects at the intersection of science and policy, both in our backyard and around the globe. We’ve used cutting edge research to track and understand marine life, from nearby Shinnecock Bay, NY to the atolls of Belize and the waters of the Caspian Sea. 


Our work has led to better management of species including sturgeon, sharks, and forage fish. We've advised world leaders at the United Nations on how to conserve their precious ocean resources through marine protected areas. 


What drives us? We know that smart policy and management decisions depend on good information and strong science. 


We design and conduct research that can be used to better manage our oceans. Our work contributes to moving the field of marine science forward and is actively published in peer-reviewed journals. We are committed to informing and engaging on policy decisions at the global, national, and local levels. We strive to enhance ocean health in ways that have measurable impact. 


Despite the many human-driven pressures the ocean faces, we maintain our sense of wonder and curiosity for the mysteries the seas hold. We understand that there is a difference between using the ocean and using it up. We keep this concept front of mind as we conduct our work.


The ocean has a lot more to teach us. And we have a lot more work to do to save it. Through our role as scientists with policy and communications experience, we at IOCS will continue to fight for the oceans by providing a solid foundation for science-based conservation.  


Our History

Unique in being established as an academically-based institute with a mission to advance ocean conservation, the Institute was founded in 2003, originally as the Pew Institute for Ocean Science at the University of Miami’s Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences. After five years, we moved to Stony Brook University, and have been housed within the School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences ever since.


Since our inception, IOCS scientists and staff have produced an impressive record of peer-reviewed publications and accomplishments. 

Our most outstanding achievements have been when our science makes a difference: for instance, when a country uses our data to help design expanded protected areas, when our analyses lead to stronger legal protections for an endangered species, or when our work becomes highly cited among peers and professionals. 


Over the years, IOCS has proudly and gratefully employed and collaborated with many scientists, graduate students, non-governmental organizations, foundations, and other key groups to make a difference for the future of our oceans. 

Current Work

Focal areas of IOCS currently include marine protected areas, fisheries science and monitoring, the management of forage fish, and policy issues on the local, state, national and international levels. See the Projects tab for detailed information on current and recent efforts.  


We are especially proud to educate and mentor graduate students at SoMAS, who will become the next generation of ocean science leaders at universities, non-profit organizations, government agencies, and in their communities. 


Our leadership, staff, and students are always looking for new opportunities to connect and partner with interdisciplinary organizations. We know the scale it will take to solve environmental challenges, and we believe we can do more together than we can on our own. 

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Current Work
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