Evolved from the famous and much loved Okeanos Ocean Research Foundation, the Riverhead Foundation for Marine Research and Preservation continues to develop the only authorized Marine Mammal and Sea Turtle Stranding Program in New York State. Housed in the Atlantis Marine World Aquarium, the Foundation conducts important research and education programs, the Foundation operates whale watches and sea cruises, offering a fun and rewarding marine experience for about 18,000 people each year.
The primary mission of The Riverhead Foundation is the rescue, rehabilitation and release of sick and injured sea turtles, seals, dolphins and whales. Concerned that vital marine habitats are being destroyed, the Foundation has adopted the following goals:
- Encourage conservation and stewardship of the marine environment through scientific findings and public education programs.
- Establish and maintain a comprehensive data archive on marine species, particularly marine mammals and sea turtles, and their habitats in local waters through active field research and the stranding program.
As the only organization in this region authorized under federal and state law to handle marine mammals and sea turtles, the trained staff and volunteers of the Foundation for Marine Research work intensively to rehabilitate and release live stranded animals back to the wild. The Stranding Program assists and cares for more than 150 animals every year, most of which are successfully returned to the ocean.
Seal Observation Cruises
During the winter and early spring, from around February through April, visitors can join Foundation naturalists for a Seal Observation Cruise in Hempstead Bay. Biology and behavior of seals and other marine life will be discussed, and the tour will observe seal haul-out sites. The schedule may vary somewhat from year to year, so call for details.
Marine Science Bay Investigations
During the spring, summer, and fall, three-hour Bay Investigations introduce students to the marine environment by collecting marine organisms and oceanographic data from local waters. Activities include: sampling with plankton nets, bottom dredges, and Niskin bottles along with an introduction to piloting and navigation.
For the latest information on these cruises, including current schedules, visit the Foundation's official website, linked above, or call (631) 369-9840.
The Riverhead Foundation for Marine Research & Preservation offers a wide range of engaging programs that will enhance any student's knowledge and appreciation of the marine environment and habitats. Programs include school visits and tours of the facility, slide and lecture presentations, and even summer camps. Students can enjoy whale watching, seal cruises, and educational walks seasonally from Montauk and Greenport. Call (631) 369-9840 for more information.
Some Education Program titles include:
Marine Mammals and Sea Turtles of Long Island
The Foundation offers a variety of other hands-on programs and courses for children 6 through 18, featuring titles such as Junior Marine Biologist, Junior Biologist, and Junior Naturalist. These are week-long courses that take place on selected days in the summer. Each features tours, guided walks, and cruises and utilize the facilities of both the Foundation for Marine Research and Atlantis Marine World. Call for details, or visit the Foundation's official website.
Uses slides, a lecture and hands-on material to teach about the many species of seals, dolphins, whales, and sea turtles of Long Island. Identification, ecology, and the Foundation's Stranding Program are covered.
Long Island's Diverse Aquatic Ecosystems
From fresh water to salt marsh and the open ocean, students explore the biology and ecology of each ecosystem through slides and lectures.
Geology of Long Island
A fascinating examination of the glacial formation of Long Island covers the oceanographic processes that shape the shoreline.
Riverhead Foundation Tours
This behind-the-scenes tour of the Ecology Learning Center is designed for students in Junior High or above. The tour includes viewing rehabilitating seals and turtles and may not always be available. Call for information.
Coastal Beach Ecology-Walking Tour
This guided walking tour explores aquatic habitats, including species and the biology of the ecosystem. Groups can select a freshwater, estuarine, rocky shore, or ocean tour. Prepare to get wet! Available May through October. 20 person minimum.
Harbor Seal Field Observations
This is a very special guided walk to a remote beach at Montauk Point. Students observe the local seal population and discuss pinniped biology and ecology. Available January through April. 20 person minimum.
The Foundation's internship program offers students opportunities to gain valuable experience in working with seals, sea turtles, dolphins, whales & porpoises. Students can participate in a variety of categories, including animal husbandry, education specialist, aquarium assistant, graphic designer, and exhibits designer, to name a few. See the Foundation's official website for more information and how to submit a resume.
Adopt a Fin Whale, Seal, or Sea Turtle
A class, a group or an individual can adopt one of Long Island's resident whales, seals or sea turtles that has entered the Stranding Program. Each adoption includes photographs, biography, certificate suitable for framing and access to private adoption update line.
Membership in the Foundation for Marine Research and Preservation brings a variety of benefits. Call for details.
In all, the Foundation provides great opportunities for everyone to help conserve our natural resources, including our friends in the water.