Collaborative Efforts Lead to “Sharing the Seas: Safe Boating for Sailors and Whales”

Contact: Robert Rocha, New Bedford Whaling Museum
(508) 717-6849

To editors and reporters:  This release was originally distributed by Whale and Dolphin Conservation and Audobon Society of Rhode Island. We are sharing it with you because the Whaling Museum is collaborating on this program. Gayle Hargreaves, Director of Marketing, New Bedford Whaling Museum.


(April 15, 2016) – A new partnership between the sailing community and conservation organizations is targeted to reach boat enthusiasts with an important message on protecting the safety of both sailors and marine life.

Biologists from Whale and Dolphin Conservation, Audubon Society of Rhode Island, and the New Bedford Whaling Museum have teamed up with US Sailing to develop outreach materials for sailors of all ages through a program called “Sharing the Seas”. The goal is to communicate information regarding the identification and behavior of marine mammal and sea turtles to sailors. This knowledge will empower sailors to utilize safe boating techniques that reduce disturbances and injury to whales and other marine life.

The North Atlantic is home to several endangered large whale species, including humpback, fin, and North Atlantic right whales, along with five endangered species of sea turtles. All of these species are impacted by human-induced threats, such as marine debris, collisions with vessels, and entanglement in fishing gear. Sailors can play a key role in conservation efforts to overcome these marine threats and preserve the marine ecosystem for future generations.

“Since sailors spend so much time on the water, they have a unique opportunity to assist scientists and conservationists by boating responsibly around these animals, reporting marine mammal & sea turtle activity they note while at sea and contributing to the overall cleanliness of the ocean by picking up debris they pass by,” said Anne DiMonti of Audubon Society of Rhode Island.

The “Sharing the Seas” program provides electronic and print resources that use the acronym SAIL to remind sailors of four important steps:

 Safe boating practices

Alert authorities to important sightings

Important information

Limit litter

Components of the program include easy-to-remember tips for safe operation around whales key identifying features and behaviors for the more commonly seen species are. Also included in the program is contact information for authorities in the event a whale or turtle is seen entangled or otherwise in distress, as well as easy reminder tips to help keep the oceans clean by keeping debris out of the ocean.

“Through the field reference guide and information on the “Sharing the Seas” website, we’ll achieve our goal to make sure that sailors of all ages have access to information that will help keep themselves and marine life safe,” said Monica Pepe of Whale and Dolphin Conservation. “Each large whale species behaves very differently, and understanding those differences can minimize the risk of a dangerous interaction.”

The program is launching in the Northeast, but by the end of the year plans to target sailors at regattas and ocean races along the eastern seaboard, as well as Community Boating Clubs and US Sailing’s Reach initiative for young boaters.

“Education is the key to any type of systemic change,” said Stu Gilfillen, US Sailing’s Training Director. “We strongly believe that through collaborations like this one we can help provide resources and materials that allow people to be active participants in conservation efforts and also create a safer environment for them and marine life.”

To learn more, visit the website at




Monica Pepe, Whale and Dolphin Conservation
+1 508 746 2522

Anne DiMonti, Audubon Society of Rhode Island
+1 401-245-7500 ext. 3116

Robert Rocha, New Bedford Whaling Museum
(508) 717-6849

Stu Gilfillen, US Sailing
+1 (401) 366-3130


Additional notes to Editors

WDC, Whale and Dolphin Conservation, is the leading global charity dedicated to the conservation and protection of whales and dolphins. We defend these remarkable creatures against the many threats they face through campaigns, advising governments, conservation projects, field research and rescue. WDC’s North American office is based in Plymouth, MA. WDC staff, volunteers and interns conduct research and work to protect whales from the threats they face. Visit to learn more about how you can help as a volunteer, advocate, or donor.

The New Bedford Whaling Museum is the world's most comprehensive museum devoted to the global story of whales, whaling, and the cultural history of the region. The cornerstone of New Bedford Whaling National Historical Park, the Museum is located at 18 Johnny Cake Hill in the heart of the city's historic downtown and is open daily. Wheelchair accessible. For more information, visit the Whaling Museum online at

The Audubon Society of Rhode Island, independent and unaffiliated with the National Audubon Society, was founded in 1897.Today, with 17,000 members and supporters, the Audubon Society of Rhode Island is dedicated to education, land conservation and advocacy. Audubon independently protects or owns almost 9,500 acres of woodlands and coastal property embracing diverse natural habitats. More than 33,000 students from area schools participate annually in our educational programs. A voice in statewide ecological issues, the Society actively fulfills its environmental stewardship through preservation and protection of Rhode Island's natural heritage.

About US Sailing
The United States Sailing Association (US Sailing), the national governing body for sailing, provides leadership, integrity, and growth for the sport in the United States. Founded in 1897 and headquartered in Portsmouth, Rhode Island, US Sailing is a 501(c) (3) non-profit organization. US Sailing offers training and education programs for instructors and race officials, supports a wide range of sailing organizations and communities, issues offshore rating certificates, and provides administration and oversight of competitive sailing across the country, including National Championships and the US Sailing Team Sperry. For more information, please visit