Blue Ocean Society for Marine Conservation

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Suspendisse varius enim in eros elementum tristique. Duis cursus, mi quis viverra ornare, eros dolor interdum nulla, ut commodo diam libero vitae erat. Aenean faucibus nibh et justo cursus id rutrum lorem imperdiet. Nunc ut sem vitae risus tristique posuere.

Key Takeaways

  • In 2021, HCF partnered with the Blue Ocean Society for Marine Conservation to help secure funding and support the data analysis of their microplastics sampling program. The goal was to publish the findings, incorporate them into their educational programs, and work with the generators of the local waste streams to help stop pollution at the source.
  • In 2023, HCF provided an additional grant to Blue Ocean Society to complete this stage of their research and develop educational and awareness-building materials using their findings. The final grant will conclude at the end of 2024.
  • The Blue Ocean Society is a nonprofit that specializes in research and education around marine environments. The organization hosts a number of conservation programs, including whale watches, beach cleanups, school programs, and the Blue Ocean Discovery Center, a hands-on educational center in Hampton Beach, NH.
  • For the past eight years, Blue Ocean Society has engaged community members in data collection for a microplastics sampling program. The organization had been seeking support for the analysis of this data.
  • This project is conducted in partnership with New Hampshire Sea Grant. Blue Ocean Society also receives support from NOAA's Office for Coastal Management under the Coastal Zone Management Act in conjunction with the New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services Coastal Program.

The Challenge

Blue Ocean Society’s programs create a balance between education and research, as they empower volunteers to gather data as they take part in beach cleanups. For the last eight years, Blue Ocean Society has been using these “citizen scientists” for a microplastics sampling program along local beaches. The goal is to understand the “root cause” of plastic pollution flows to beaches in the Northeast.

No items found.
Photos provided by Blue Ocean Society

Our Approach

Over the last eight years, Blue Ocean Society has amassed a vast collection of data to be analyzed, published, and shared with its network, yet limited resources given its vast portfolio of projects. In 2021, Blue Ocean Society partnered with HCF to take the first steps in its data analysis. HCF is helping to secure funding for Blue Ocean Society’s data analysis and bringing on a dedicated statistician to analyze the data. The goal of the project is to create a peer-reviewed scientific study, and to use the findings to identify local waste streams in the area. With the power of their data behind them, this can help Blue Ocean Society to not only incorporate their own findings into their educational programs, but also to work with the generators of that waste to identify ways to stop the flow at its source.

While this is more of a “regional” approach, we believe that if this “pilot test” of engaging a local community focused organization works, it can then be used as a model for scaling. The long-term goal is to engage consumers in their communities by having conversations with top regional plastic polluters to collaboratively drive behavior change around plastics, and to protect sensitive beach habitats.


With funds from the HCF catalytic grant, Blue Ocean Society for Marine Conservation accomplished the following outcomes:

Conducted interviews around best practices for identifying sources of microplastics. They found that the current practice is to ID polymers and chemical bond characteristics. There is currently no way to identify the source of plastics.

Completed data entry, cleaning, and analysis of data collected by Citizen Scientists over the last 5 years. They found that most of the pollution was foam, having identified 20 different types of foam.

Visited harbors and marinas to see if they might be potential sources of pollution. These turned out to be unlikely sources of pollution, as they're all encapsulated in hard plastic. Residential docks may still be a source.

Gave presentations on findings at 5 conferences, 1 science cafe, and various informal meetings.

Created a marine debris exhibit created in 2022 to educate the local public.

Blue Ocean Society will be completing this stage of their research and creating educational materials around the findings as part of a final 2023-24 HCF grant.

No items found.
Photos provided by Blue Ocean Society

Further Readings

Additional Projects

Join us in solving the systemic conservation issues we face on our planet

Support Our Work