Marine & Oceanic Sustainability Foundation Announces the Appointment of a New Board Member

Mar. 27, 2015 – WILMINGTON, Del. —The Marine & Oceanic Sustainability Foundation (MOSF), a Delaware-based marine conservation nonprofit, today announced the appointment of Jonathan Tourtellot to the organization’s Board of Directors, effective immediately. Mr. Tourtellot’s appointment expands the existing Board to 8 directors.

“Jonathan’s many years with the National Geographic Society and broad experience in sustainable tourism, destination stewardship and science communications will add a valuable perspective to our Board of Directors,” said Jennifer Pitzer, Managing Director of MOSF.  “We appreciate his willingness to serve as a director and look forward to benefitting from his judgment and counsel.”

After 22 years as a senior writer and editor for the National Geographic Society, Mr. Tourtellot founded and directed National Geographic’s Center for Sustainable Destinations in 2001. He originated the concept of geotourism, defined as “tourism that sustains or enhances the geographical character of a place—its environment, culture, aesthetics, heritage, and the well-being of its residents.” Mr. Tourtellot is the Geotourism Editor for National Geographic Traveler magazine and continues to address numerous national and international groups, including the U.N. World Tourism Organization, UNESCO, and the World Travel and Tourism Council.

Mr. Tourtellot helped the U.S. Travel Association develop the 2002 study Geotourism: The New Trend in Travel, a landmark survey of American traveler behavior and attitudes about issues of sustainability. In his capacity as geotourism editor for Traveler magazine, he has written on such topics as climate change, nature tourism, and heritage travel. He is a two time winner of the prestigious Lowell Award, presented by the Society of American Travel Writers Foundation and in 2011, Traveler magazine won the prestigious World Tourism Award for his geotourism initiatives.

Mr. Tourtellot joins MOSF’s existing Board of Directors:

  • Armin Afsahi, Associate Vice Chancellor for Alumni and Community Engagement at the University of California, San Diego
  • Kim Brown is a business owner, serial entrepreneur, consultant, and author. Kim and her family are current sailing around the world on a 56’ Oyster sailboat.
  • Shilpi Chhotray is a Manager of Stakeholder Engagement at Future 500 in San Francisco, California
  • B.R. McConnon, III, founder, Chairman, and CEO of DDC Advocacy, an international full-service advocacy firm in Washington, D.C.
  • David Pitzer, Senior Vice President and COO of Frederick Mutual Insurance in Frederick, Maryland
  • Dr. Tiffany Moisan, Research Physical Scientist in the Hydrological Sciences Lab at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center in Wallops Island, Virginia
  • Rosemarie Watkins, retired, former Director of International Policy at the American Farm Bureau Federation in Washington, D.C.

About the Marine & Oceanic Sustainability Foundation

Founded in 2013, the Marine & Oceanic Sustainability Foundation (MOSF) is dedicated to the advancement of marine conservation and sustainability projects. MOSF engages in market-driven, tourism centric programs that balance ocean health, human prosperity and emphasize marine stewardship. We establish geotourism and citizen science activities, which sustain or enhance the geographic well being of a destination, emphasize the culture and history of the area, and benefit both visitors and residents. For more information, please visit our website at:


See the actual press release online.

Combatting An Invasive Species: The Lionfish

Fire ants, zebra mussels, Asian carp, Burmese pythons… what do all of these species have in common? They’re abundant in certain parts of the U.S. and are outcompeting many other species in their respective habitats. What you may not know about these species is that none of them are native to the areas in the U.S. that they are taking over. Fire ants are from South America; zebra mussels and Asian carp are from Eurasia; Burmese pythons are from Southeastern Asia. All of these species have been introduced into the U.S. for various reasons and have since flourished in these environments. These are textbook examples of invasive species. Once established, they begin to outcompete and drastically endanger native species.


Photo by Richard Carey

In the marine environment, there is one particular invasive species that is wreaking havoc on coral reef environments in the Western Atlantic: lionfish. These venomous fish were introduced into Florida waters from their native Indo-Pacific waters in the 1980s when aquarium owners decided they didn’t want them anymore. The pet trade has been the cause of the establishment of many invasive species, but lionfish are one of the worst culprits. Lionfish reproduce very quickly; a female can release two masses of up to 15,000 eggs as often as every four days. These fish also have high site fidelity, meaning once they find a habitat that is good for them, they will remain there. In some areas, the density has reached 200 adults per acre. There invasion has grown rapidly into other Southeastern U.S. states’ coasts, as well as into the Caribbean Sea. Projections indicate that lionfish will continue migrating further north and south; juveniles have recently been spotted of the coasts of some northeastern U.S. states and in both Columbia and Venezuela in South America.

Lionfish are voracious predators that will eat practically anything that fits into their mouths; one study conducted by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) found over 40 different species of fish in their stomachs, including ecologically and economically important ones, such as grouper and yellowtail snapper. Lionfish are known to corral prey with their large, fan-like pectoral fins and then blowing water at the prey until they turn around and then promptly devoured. Lionfish eat many juvenile fish, which significantly reduces the number of native fish species, particularly ones that help feed grouper and snapper populations, as well as species that keep sea grasses and algae from overwhelming coral reefs.

The invasion of lionfish has led to some creative mitigation methods, including NOAA’s “Eat Lionfish” campaign. NOAA and others are working to encourage an appetite for lionfish in the seafood market, including hosting lionfish food fairs and seafood receptions. Don’t worry, chefs remove the venomous spines before the fish are sold to markets and restaurants. The Reef Environmental Education Foundation ( has even released a cookbook that includes information on how to safely catch, handle and prepare lionfish recipes. The 2011 Smart Seafood Guide also encouraged the public to begin dining on this invasive species, deeming it the “safer, more sustainable” seafood product, as many popular food species are overfished and their numbers are declining.

lionfish_cookbook_coverWhile this one mitigation method will be helpful, other efforts are needed to reduce the lionfish populations. Total eradication is very unlikely, if not impossible, because lionfish have already shown that they can easily adapt to different environmental conditions, including colder temperatures and deeper depths. In February 2015, NOAA’s Office of National Marine Sanctuaries released a 3-year comprehensive plan on how to respond, control, and adapt to an active marine invasion, specifically the lionfish. You can find this document here. has also created an annual event to help with mitigation efforts: lionfish derbies. These derbies, held in numerous locations, are single day competitions to collect and remove as many lionfish as possible. Teams collect lionfish by netting or spearing while SCUBA diving, free diving, or snorkeling. Lionfish derbies typically begin at sunrise and contestants must have their catches in to the scoring table by 5:00pm. Prizes are awarded to the contestants who bring in the most fish, the biggest, and the smallest individual fish. has done a great job at using these contests to educate as well. The night before each event, all contestants must attend a “Captain’s Meeting,” where they learn about lionfish biology, ecology, impacts, harvesting methods, and derby rules. During the event, spectators are welcomed to observe scoring, and can also observe lionfish dissections and filleting demonstrations. Spectators can obtain free samples of prepared lionfish and are encouraged to ask questions they may have about the invasive fish. began hosting lionfish derbies in 2009, and since then have brought in almost 15,000 fish.

Lionfish-Scuba-Diving-ExperienceIt is clear that mitigation efforts can make a significant impact at the local level; however, it is still unknown how significant those impacts are at the macro level. Raising awareness is one of the major goals of the aforementioned mitigation techniques and is important for the eventual control of this invasive fish. Healthy coral reefs and lionfish are struggling to coexist in the Western Atlantic, and we need our reefs to be healthy, as many people depend on these fragile ecosystems for their livelihoods. So order lionfish at your next dinner out, and whenever you see one while diving or snorkeling, spear it, but please be careful!

Article by Hillary Ballantine:

Hillary Ballantine is from a small town in central Ohio, a long way from the ocean. She became mesmerized by marine life at a very young age, and always knew she wanted to help save the whales. She graduated from Coastal Carolina University with a B.S. in Marine Science and a B.S. in Biology, and is currently attending graduate school at Antioch University New England, earning a M.S. in Environmental Studies with a concentration in Conservation Biology. She has worked with educating the public on marine life at Myrtle Beach State Park, and hopes to further her experience in both the education and scientific aspects of conservation.

Marine & Oceanic Sustainability Foundation Announces Media Partnership with The TerraMar Project

PRLog – March 4, 2015 – WILMINGTON, Del. — The Marine & Oceanic Sustainability Foundation (MOSF) today announced a new partnership with The TerraMar Project to promote marine conservation efforts throughout the world. MOSF and TerraMar share a common vision—a sustainably managed ocean—and will collaborate to inspire, educate and inform audiences about the benefits of and threats to the seas.

“In order to truly make a positive difference, it is imperative that conservation groups work together as a team,” stated Jennifer Pitzer, MOSF Managing Director. “The TerraMar Project is building a robust online community designed to share, inspire, educate and promote ocean literacy. We look forward to working with The TerraMar Project team and introducing interactive opportunities for ocean lovers globally.”

“We’re on a mission to create a global community to give a voice to the ocean,” said Rob Foos, TerraMar’s Director of Development. “By partnering with MOSF we are not only expanding our audience, but we are also providing our community with fantastic opportunities to get involved through their unique geotourism and citizen science experiences.”

As defined by the National Geographic Society, geotourism is tourism that sustains or enhances the geographical character of a place—its environment, culture, aesthetics, heritage, and the well being of its residents. MOSF and TerraMar are working together to highlight and promote geotourism opportunities and successes around the globe. By encompassing key sustainability principles to highlight a destination’s geographical character, these projects are designed to emphasize the distinctiveness of the locale and benefit visitors, residents, and the environment.

The ocean comprises nearly three quarters of the planet with 64% of that area situated beyond the national jurisdiction of any single nation and is known as the “global commons”. Also known as the high seas, or international waters, this area has been designated by the United Nations as the common heritage of all mankind and represents approximately 45% of the globe. In order to promote responsibility and sustainability for our global commons, The TerraMar Project offers unique tools to engage with the high seas and encourage ownership by providing a flag, a digital passport, and a daily newspaper for the region called The Daily Catch. As an online hub for the ocean, The TerraMar Project also has a robust education platform and is aggressively advocating for a standalone ocean Sustainable Development Goal in the United Nations’ post-2015 agenda.

MOSF and TerraMar will initially focus their joint efforts on highlighting geotourism opportunities and successes on social media and through The Daily Catch, expanding the visibility of these offerings that benefit the marine environment.

About the Marine & Oceanic Sustainability Foundation

Founded in 2013, the Marine & Oceanic Sustainability Foundation (MOSF) is a Delaware non-profit dedicated to the positive global promotion of successful marine conservation and education initiatives. MOSF researches and documents proven, successful marine conservation projects that balance ocean health and human prosperity. With the support of public and private sector partners, projects are selected for documentation and replication based on a model that evaluates financial feasibility, long-term sustainability, and the use of scientifically sound practices. MOSF engages coastal communities, at a grassroots level, to ensure that project implementations are culturally sensitive, community-driven and receive the support they need to thrive. For additional information, please visit our website at

About The TerraMar Project

The TerraMar Project is a non-profit on a mission to build a community to provide a voice for the least explored, most ignored part of the planet—the high seas. TerraMar is a digital platform that connects people with the ocean in unique ways by offering educational materials to improve ocean literacy; promoting ownership through passports, ambassadorships, and the ability to claim parcels of the ocean; staying informed through social media and a daily digital newspaper for the ocean called The Daily Catch; and advocating for the ocean at the United Nations and in forums around the world. The TerraMar Project is diligently urging the United Nations to include the ocean as a standalone Sustainable Development Goal in their post-2015 agenda, legislation that would dramatically move the needle on ocean conservation. Learn more at


See the actual press release.

Marine & Oceanic Sustainability Foundation Announces Partnership with Ocean Crest Alliance

PRLogMarch 3, 2015WILMINGTON, Del.The Marine & Oceanic Sustainability Foundation (MOSF) is pleased to announce a collaborative partnership with Ocean Crest Alliance (OCA) to develop geotourism and citizen science-based programs that integrate with marine protected areas (MPAs). These two marine conservations organizations are working together to implement market-driven programs that benefit local communities, promote eco-friendly tourism and help fund the management and protection of marine ecosystems.

“Ocean Crest Alliance, with Joe Ierna at the helm, is a non-profit organization that is developing innovative ways to establish and manage much needed MPAs,” stated Jennifer Pitzer, MOSF Managing Director. “Like MOSF, OCA has a very strong focus on stakeholder engagement, the importance of financially and environmentally sustainable programs, and the use of green technology to achieve our goals.”

“We have designed and developed a unique MPA Facility and E-Share program that provides a vehicle for MPAs to be financially sustainable while operating sustainably within Nature and the Community that it serves.” said Joe Ierna, Ocean Crest Alliance Director.

MOSF and OCA are collaborating on geotourism and citizen science programs that encompass key sustainability principles and highlight a destinations geographical and cultural character.  Geotourism is tourism that sustains or enhances the geographical character of a place—its environment, culture, aesthetics, heritage, and the well being of its residents. Citizen science enables non-scientists with specific interests, such as marine conservation, to get into the field and assist with the collection, analysis and documentation of valuable data for professionally-trained scientists.

MOSF and OCA have already begun working together on a sea turtle conservation program on Long Island in the Bahamas. Long Island is the site of a proposed 215,000 acre MPA, which is a part of Mission Blue Bahamas “Hope Spot”. This program will be designed and developed with extensive input and involvement of the residents of Long Island. The ultimate goal is to hire and train local Bahamians of the island to manage and staff the program full-time with oversight and assistance provided by MOSF and OCA, as needed.

Partnering with colleges and universities globally, the marine conservation programs will be set up host student interns that can attain required community service hours, get hands on marine conservation experience, and learn valuable work-life skills. Students will be engaging in activities ranging from education outreach and turtle nesting area cleanups to marine life rescue, rehabilitation and release.

This collaborative partnership brings together two passionate organizations with solid backgrounds in business, technology, and marine conservation. Both organizations share an entrepreneurial spirit and commitment to investing in green energy, sustainable development principles, and reproducible programs that benefit local communities.

About the Marine & Oceanic Sustainability Foundation

Founded in 2013, the Marine & Oceanic Sustainability Foundation (MOSF) is dedicated to the advancement of marine conservation and sustainability projects. MOSF engages in market-driven, tourism centric programs that balance ocean health, human prosperity and emphasize marine stewardship. We establish geotourism and citizen science activities, which sustain or enhance the geographic well being of a destination, emphasize the culture and history of the area, and benefit both visitors and residents. For more information, please visit our website at:

About Ocean Crest Alliance

Dedicated to Honor, Protect and Restore the Health of the World’s Oceans and the Life of the Earth’s Systems through Conservation, Research, Education, Science and Technology. OCA programs anticipate dedicating resources in the fields of ocean-related studies, alternative energy and marine-related activities/technologies; towards building marine protected area facilities, design and build a fleet of vessels to support the sustainability of the various contracted research projects; to establish a Global Network of Marine Protected Areas (MPAs). For more information, please visit our website at:



See the actual press release.


Citizen Science: A Partnership Between Everyday People & Professional Scientists

Measuring TurtleLast summer, my family and I were strolling along a beach in South Carolina and noticed beautiful shells that were washing up onto the beach with each wave. The creatures would quickly burrow themselves, and their protective shells, into the wet sand. I took a few photos and posted them on Facebook. I commented, “Wow, these shells are beautiful, anybody know what they are?” Honestly, I didn’t expect much of a response. Instead, I received a number of comments about what species of marine gastropod it was and one oceanographer friend exclaimed, “I am so envious, where are you? I have always wanted to see one of those!”

The now famous Olive snail

The now famous Olive snail

I am not scientist, but I learned that my observations, questions and photos were of value to the scientists who make a living studying, tracking, and monitoring our amazing ocean life. Without knowing it, I was acting as a “citizen scientist”. Citizen science can mean anything from people simply observing natural events and characteristics to a full-fledged revolution in ‘science’ that establishes the important social role of learning about the world we live in. Citizen science can enable professionally-trained scientists to leverage the efforts of groups of people distributed widely, or a way to leverage the brains, experience, and insights of the world’s people to advance understanding.

In order for citizen science data to be used and usable, it is important that the information collected is credible and needed by scientists. Fortunately, the value of citizen science is being recognized by individuals and organizations that are in a position to get the word out. Programs are being developed by government agencies and nonprofits, like ours, to train people interested in getting involved and to develop Web-based applications where citizen scientists can share their findings.



Mote Marine Laboratory, in conjunction with the US government and numerous universities, has developed a program called the Marine Ecosystem Event Response and Assessment Program (MEERA). MEERA is a community-based reporting network, which enables ANYONE on the water to report on unusual biological events in the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary and surrounding waters. Another online tool, supported by the National Geographic Society and called Project Noah, enables nature lovers and citizen scientists to explore and document their natural world. These tools are a powerful source of information that can be used for science research and educational programs that promote wildlife awareness and preserve biodiversity.

In tandem with our geotourism based programs, the Marine & Oceanic Sustainability Foundation (MOSF) is developing training and participatory programs that enable ocean lovers to get involved in hands-on citizen science activities. All of our programs are marine conservation focused and include activities ranging from the identification and protection of sea turtle nesting locations to scuba diving trips on which divers help reduce the population of invasive species, like the lionfish, on coral reefs. MOSF’s first geotourism and citizen science programs are already being developed and will be launched in the Caribbean region.

Turtle Research

Turtle Research

Cornell University’s Lab of Ornithology has an established citizen-science program that has more than 200,000 individual people contributing data each year; data collection on this vast of a scale was only recently unimaginable. Cornell’s scientists are using these data to determine how birds are affected by habitat loss, pollution, and disease. They trace bird migration and document long-term changes in bird numbers across the North American continent. The results have been used to create management guidelines for birds, investigate the effects of acid rain and climate change, and advocate for the protection of declining species.

Citizen science is very important! It helps scientists attain information and answer questions about topics that they may not have the resources to collect on their own. Citizen science encompasses a broad range of topics, geographic settings, and strategies. Some projects are confined to a single species and locations, like loggerhead sea turtles on an specific island in the Bahamas, while others are global in scope. On any scale, citizen science creates opportunities for people of all ages to connect with the natural world, gain scientific skills, and learn key science concepts.SharkTagging