Oceanites, Inc. was founded in 1987 and is a U.S.-based, $501(c)(3) nonprofit science and education foundation, which focuses on conservation of the world’s oceans and islands, and their wildlife. The Antarctic Site Inventory is its major research effort, which recognizes that, everywhere — including Antarctica, assessment and monitoring are the lynchpins of long-term environmental conservation.
Significantly, Oceanites is the only nongovernmental, publicly supported organization conducting scientific research in Antarctica.
From its inception through 1994, Oceanites published and distributed a variety of educational materials, including:
• THE ANTARCTIC CENTURY brochure, summarizing why Antarctica is so important to understanding life on our watery planet
• THE ANTARCTIC CENTURY Newsletter, which kept the community of Antarctic diplomats, scientists, conservationists, expedition and tourism operators, and interested citizens up-to-date on Antarctic news
• Antarctica — A Biology Reader, published by the Carolina Biological Supply Company, which summarized Antarctica’s scientific riches
With the advent of the Antarctic Environmental Protocol, which was signed in 1994, Oceanites embarked in a different direction, and the Antarctic Site Inventory was born. The Protocol would require environmental impact assessments about human activities and, to date, no project had begun compiling site-specific data and information about the various places being visited in Antarctica.
With start-up funding from the U.S. National Science Foundation Office Of Polar Programs, Oceanites began Antarctic Site Inventory data collection in November 1994, And since, the project is primarily sustained by the public donations and contributions, augmented by private foundation grants and support from Antarctic Treaty governments (e.g. the German Federal Environment Agency [Unweltbundesamt], the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office, Her Majesty’s Royal Navy, and the US Environmental Protection Agency).
The Inventory’s now-proven hypothesis is that opportunistic visits can be used to gather data for detecting changes in physical features, flora, and fauna of visitor sites; and, if changes are detected, for analyzing why changes are occurring. In these regards, the Inventory has proved enormously successful.
Since 1994, Inventory researchers have censused and surveyed fauna (penguins, seabirds, seals) and flora (lichens, mosses) throughout the Antarctic Peninsula, building a comprehensive database to implement the new Antarctic Environmental Protocol. Results are published regularly and reported annually at Antarctic Treaty Consultative Meetings.
In November 2003, pursuant to a new, five-year grant award from the U.S. National Science Foundation Office Of Polar Programs, Oceanites and the Antarctic Site Inventory began focused, long-term monitoring at species-diverse, potentially sensitive Petermann Island.
At the 2006 Treaty Meeting, Parties adopted a comprehensive set of site-specific management guidelines, relying upon biological data and information in the Antarctic Site Inventory database.