New York, June 9, 2017 -- The Wildlife Conservation Society has been working to save the world’s oceans and marine life for well over 100 years.

We are posting a timeline of our marine work today in honor of the United Nations Ocean Conference, which took place here in New York, June 5-9, 2017.

WCS seeks to safeguard 90 percent of global coral species, reverse the decline of sharks and rays, and steward the recovery of marine mammals. We seek to rebuild local fisheries by ending overfishing of fragile coastal ecosystems and supporting measures that triple the available fish biomass.

We aim to expand marine protected areas to cover 10 percent of the world's oceans.

With several hundred marine scientists and conservationists on staff, WCS tests and applies innovative solutions for measurable conservation outcomes.

We focus where we are needed most: areas that hold the greatest biodiversity and aggregations of marine wildlife, and support increasingly important fisheries and vulnerable coastal communities. This includes nine priority regions, and work that extends into the waters of 23 countries.

You can learn more about our marine efforts by visiting here.

A Timeline of our Marine Work – 122 Years and Counting

·         1896 The New York Aquarium is established at Manhattan’s Castle Clinton, in present-day Battery Park.

·         1902 The New York Zoological Society (forerunner of the Wildlife Conservation Society) takes over management of New York Aquarium under the direction of Charles Haskins Townsend.

·         1911 The Fur Seal Treaty of 1911—signed by the U.S., Great Britain, Japan, and Russia, and promoted by Bronx Zoo Director William Hornaday’s campaigns to protect the northern fur seal—becomes the first international treaty to address wildlife conservation.

·         1923 William Beebe leads the first oceanographic expedition of the NYZS’s Department of Tropical Research to the Galapagos Archipelago. Subsequent marine research voyages are taken by the DTR over the next 20 years to the West Indies, Sargasso Sea, Hudson Gorge, Bermuda, and western Pacific.

·         1928 The Department of Tropical Research establishes its headquarters and laboratories for the next 11 years on Nonsuch Island in Bermuda. DTR conducts a thorough study of sea life in a limited area (a circle of eight miles in diameter), and from a depth of two miles from surface.

·         1934 Bronx Zoo Curator William Beebe completes a record-setting 3,028-foot dive in the Bathysphere—a spherical deep-sea submersible--off Bermuda’s coast.

·         1935 Charles Townsend publishes, "The distribution of certain whales as shown by the logbook records of American whaleships." This analysis of whaling logs illustrates the distribution and seasonal migrations of whales, as well as the location of commercial whaling grounds, and becomes the foundation of much later whale conservation work.

·         1957 The New York Aquarium opens in Coney Island, moving from its original Manhattan location after a 16-year hiatus.

·         1959 Through the efforts of NYZS’s Carleton Ray, the world’s first land and sea park is established in the Exuma Cays of The Bahamas.

·         1969 Conservation work conducted in Argentina between 1960 and 1969 helps in the creation of six coastal reserves, including Punta Tombo and Península Valdés.

·         1970 A recording of humpback whale communications by NYZS wildlife biologist Roger Payne generates a wave of public interest and contributes to the movement to ban commercial whaling under the International Whaling Commission.

·         1982 Archie Carr III chairs a workshop at the Third World Congress on National Parks in Bali, Indonesia, a once-a-decade assemblage organized by the Commission on National Parks and Protected Areas of the IUCN. He delivers a paper on the conservation of estuaries in the tropics, and helps to draft a marine sources management book.

·         1987 Wildlife Conservation Society international researcher Jacque Carter's field studies exploring the life history and reef ecology of the Nassau grouper play a key role in the establishment of the Hol Chan Marine Reserve in the Belize Barrier Reef.

·         1992 The New York Zoological Society begins sponsoring the coral reef conservation work of Tim McClanahan. McClanahan’s research spans more than two decades and informs more than 160 studies on marine protected areas, food webs, climate change, and linkages between coral reefs and coastal communities.

·         1995 The Glover’s Reef Research Station is established in 1995. The station continues to provide a platform for scientists to conduct cutting-edge research at one of the Caribbean’s most complex and important coral reef systems.

·         1996 WCS’s Howard Rosenbaum initiates first expeditions to Southern Hemisphere humpback whale breeding grounds starting in Antongil Bay, Madagascar and establishing similar conservation efforts off the coast of Gabon. WCS presents research to the International Whaling Commission that indicates populations might have recovered to as much as 70 percent and 90 percent of their pre-whaling numbers. This helps trigger marine conservation efforts in both countries, including Gabon Bleu.

·         2008 WCS conservationists discover nearly 6,000 Irrawaddy river dolphins, among the world’s rarest species of marine mammal, in the freshwater mangrove system of Bangladesh.

·         2008 WCS’s work in Patagonia leads to the creation of the Golfo San Jorge marine protected area, a key habitat for Magellanic penguins and their prey. With the help of WCS, Isla Pingüino Coastal Marine Park and Makenke Coastal Marine Park are established in Argentina, safeguarding marine mammals, sea birds, and other coastal species.

·         2013 Aided by genetic data, WCS and other groups discover a news species of humpback dolphin previously unknown to science occurring in the waters off northern Australia. They resolve the species identity and relationships for these dolphins range-wide.

·         2013 WCS and partners (governments and conservation organizations) are successful in pressing for protection of seven species of sharks and rays through the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).  In 2016, the partnership succeeded in pressing for the listing of devil rays, thresher sharks, and the silky shark under CITES for the regulation of sustainable and legal trade in those species.

·         2014 Ground is broken for The New York Aquarium’s new Ocean Wonders: Sharks! exhibit that will highlight the marine life of New York’s regional waters.

·         2016 The Marine Protected Area Fund is launched by WCS to assist countries in achieving their United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goal 14 target of protecting 10 percent of their marine and coastal waters by 2020.

·         2017 At the United Nations World Oceans Conference in New York, the Government of Gabon announces the creation of a massive marine protected areas network consisting of 9 new marine parks and 11 aquatic reserves. Also at the event, the Government of Fiji commits to gazetting two large Marine Managed Areas within Fiji’s magnificent Vatu-i-Ra Seascape. WCS was instrumental in both undertakings.


About Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS)

MISSION: WCS saves wildlife and wild places worldwide through science, conservation action, education, and inspiring people to value nature. To achieve our mission, WCS, based at the Bronx Zoo, harnesses the power of its Global Conservation Program in nearly 60 nations and in all the world’s oceans and its five wildlife parks in New York City, visited by 4 million people annually. WCS combines its expertise in the field, zoos, and aquarium to achieve its conservation mission. For more information, visit:, Follow us on social media: Facebook, Twitter @WCSNewsroom, and For more information: 347-840-1242