Ocean for Life: Enhancing Cultural Understanding through Ocean Science

2013 Ocean for Life Field Study

One World, One Ocean

OFL LogoOcean for Life brings together students of diverse backgrounds and cultures to learn about marine science and ocean stewardship. Through this program, students from all over the world discover how the ocean connects us all. America's national marine sanctuaries provide the optimal setting for this unique opportunity to enhance cross-cultural relationships, while creating a stewardship ethic for the ocean and the universal human experience. The idea for the Ocean for Life Program has its roots in the tragedy of September 11, 2001, when the plane carrying four DC public school students, their teachers, and National Geographic Society staff en route to an ocean field study in the Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary off the coast of California was hijacked and flown into the Pentagon. Ocean for Life combines the effort of government, business, and non-profit organizations to provide world youth an incredible opportunity to learn about the ocean, each other’s cultures, and how they can work together to solve the problems facing our one ocean.

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Help build tomorrow's leaders by supporting this program today.

Ocean for Life participant

A Global Mission

The mission of Ocean for Life is to provide high-quality, immersive ocean field studies and follow-on education programs to strengthen scientific understanding of our ocean, facilitate cross-cultural learning, and create life-changing experiences among students from across the world. The Ocean for Life program:

  • Promotes ocean science -- The National Marine Sanctuary System serves as a learning laboratory as students explore marine ecosystems and participate in scientific research.
  • Enhances cultural understanding – The place-based focus of Ocean for Life stimulates a sense of curiosity about the world and its diverse inhabitants and habitats.
  • Fosters a safer world – The cultural connections established during the program lead to better understanding and the strengthening of our global relationships.

Help Build Tomorrow's Leaders

During the two-week pilot programs in July and August 2009, 30 students from Greater Middle Eastern nations joined 30 Western students for field studies in the Florida Keys and California’s national marine sanctuaries. Both sets of students documented their experiences – through video or still photography – and created youth media projects. The 60 students who were part of the pilot initiative continue to be engaged in ocean stewardship activities, showing ongoing benefits from the program. Ocean for Life participant underwater

The Ocean for Life field study returned in 2013 to the Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary, June 22 - July 4. Hands-on and immersive activities engaged students of diverse cultures and backgrounds with an opportunity to discover marine science, conservation, and that the ocean connects us all. Learn more.

Problems facing the ocean today cross national boundaries and require global solutions. Ocean for Life relies on the generosity of people like you to fund the field studies that have so far changed the lives of 90 students from around the world. Be part of the solution by donating to Ocean for Life today.


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Photo credits: Lindsay McCullough, National Geographic Photo Camp; Nicolas Lemoine, France (Ocean for Life 2009 Florida)

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