Taras Oceanographic Foundation

Investing in Science for a Sustainable Future

JUPITER, FL   |  www.taras.org

Mission

The Taras Oceanographic Foundation, a 501 (c) (3) non-profit organization based in Jupiter, Florida, is dedicated to advancing marine science and the long-term survival of both people and the oceans, through research, conservation, education, and cultural programs.

Notes from the nonprofit

The Taras Oceanographic Foundation is named after Taras, the son of Poseidon, who, when Taras was shipwrecked, rescued him by sending a dolphin, which Taras rode to traverse the sea to the south of Italy. More than 2000 years later it is up to us to save dolphins. Right here in your own backyard, or, in this case the ocean, we are turning the tide on marine research and educating children and adults about wild dolphins and the deeply intertwined relationship between dolphin and ocean health and our own well-being. Our team of researchers, citizen scientists and volunteers continue to create measurable, positive impacts around the globe. Our work is incredibly important to us. It’s not a job, it’s our life. We are passionate, driven, purposeful in the pursuit of our objectives. We like precision. We like questions. We like answers. We like knowledge. We realize that having citizens and the public involved is essential in our pursuits and we are grateful for their support.

Ruling year info

2001

Director

Dr Stefan Harzen

Director

Dr Barbara Brunnick

Main address

5905 STONEWOOD CT

JUPITER, FL 33458 USA

Show more contact info

EIN

65-1052460

NTEE code info

Private Operating Foundations (T23)

Marine Science and Oceanography (U21)

Wildlife Preservation/Protection (D30)

IRS filing requirement

This organization is required to file an IRS Form 990 or 990-EZ.

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Communication

Programs and results

What we aim to solve

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Humanity is exacting a terrible toll on the ocean, threatening local dolphin populations, leading to alarming declines in fish stocks, and the death of coral reefs and other marine life. Dolphins are exposed to a cocktail of pollutants, ranging from heavy metals to polychlorinated biphenyls, pesticides to micro plastics. Some of these chemicals are passed down from mother to calf, frequently leading to the death of their firstborn. Dolphins suffering from immune deficiencies and skin lesions are a common sight, and every so often sick and dead dolphins strand on our beaches. Despite the tremendous current threats to dolphins, marine life and our well own wellbeing, this story need not end in tragedy. Dolphins engender a wish to improve the health of the marine environment in people who might not otherwise care and hence they can be a vibrant source of inspiration and hope, and a potent force in building a sustainable ocean economy that benefits both nature and humanity.

Our programs

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

What are the organization's current programs, how do they measure success, and who do the programs serve?

Palm Beach Dolphin Project

The Palm Beach Dolphin Project is a flagship program of the Foundation, exploring the behavior, habitat use, social lives, and communication skills of wild dolphins. In addition to gathering critical baseline data about wild dolphin populations, we shed light on how the health of these top predators, and the conditions of the natural resources they depend upon, directly and indirectly, impact our own health and well-being. The appearance of our skin often allows us to draw conclusions about our overall health. The same is true for dolphins. Over the last decade, the presence of skin lesions in dolphins has been reported from various locations around the
world, and appears to be on the rise. During our surveys, we take countless photographs of all the dolphins we encounter. We use them to track the members of our coastal dolphin populations. These images are also an important way to document and gather critical information about the health status of dolphins and the potential presence of pollutants that could possibly effect our own health, too.
More than valuable intellectual exercises, these studies help us understand the threats dolphins are facing and teach us to care about the world. Generally, understanding begets caring.

Population(s) Served
Adults

This lecture series is one of the Foundation’s edu-tainment programs and promotes science and the communication and between scientists and the people of the communities in which they live and work. The series also serves as a forum for all stakeholders and constituents to share their views and activities with a wider audience, while providing a wonderful resource of a wide range of information for students and adults alike.
The lecture series is produced in collaboration with the Jupiter Environmental Research and Field Studies Academy (JERFSA), a four-year academic program focusing on ecological principles and processes, environmental awareness, field studies and research, critical thinking and leadership skills.
All events are held at the auditorium of the Jupiter High School, are free, open to the public, and suitable to anyone beyond the age of ten.
The program has received continuous support from the Rotary Club of Jupiter and Tequesta, and the Jupiter Inlet District.
Over the past 17 years this program has introduced more than 100 national and international world-class scientists and researchers, associated with a variety of local, national and international organizations, and has evolved into one the most successful program of its kind.

Population(s) Served
Children and youth
Adults

Music is an unexplainable manifestation uniquely human, pleasing to our ears, and nurturing our minds and souls. Appreciating environmental jewels and participating in their protection is equally rewarding and important. We created the Ocean of Notes Concert Series with the following goals in mind: (1) to promote music, musicians and their craft, (2) to share the important conservation research conservation work we do, and (3) to engage the audience in dolphin and ocean conservation. The success of this program, both in terms of attendance and later engagement in environmental issues, suggests that our approach of combining science, outreach, and education with live music performances that are affordable and accessible to people across all income levels in our communities, is making a real difference.
In an effort to reduce known barriers that may keep people from attending live concerts such as cost, location, hours, and information, we have been selecting easily accessible venues, have set affordable ticket prices, and provide a great number of comp tickets to organizations and individuals in need.
Since 2017, all our concerts are live streamed via the Internet and an edited version is made available on our YouTube channel (Palm Beach Dolphin Project).
Based on the positive feedback we have received, there is no doubt that our concerts with their mix of learning about the world and live music, are having a lasting impact on the audience and the performers. People are clearly enjoying the experience, making great memories of it, and getting involved in conservation by making more sensible and informed choices in their personal lives and by supporting our programs.

Population(s) Served
Adults
Economically disadvantaged people

Where we work

Our results

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

How does this organization measure their results? It's a hard question but an important one.

Number of students showing interest in topics related to STEM

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Population(s) Served

Children and youth, Adults

Related Program

Meet the Scientist Lecture Series

Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success

Holding steady

Context Notes

These are the average number of students attending the lecture series. Over the 18 years we run this program we grew the audience from 50 to almost 300. The largest number for any one lecture was 450.

Number of individuals attending community events or trainings

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Population(s) Served

Adults, Economically disadvantaged people

Related Program

Ocean of Notes Concert Series

Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success

Increasing

Context Notes

Number of people attending our concerts in person and watching via Livestream. Our goal is to continue to grow both live and online audiences in the coming years.

Total number of fields trips

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Population(s) Served

Adults

Related Program

Palm Beach Dolphin Project

Type of Metric

Context - describing the issue we work on

Direction of Success

Holding steady

Context Notes

Field trips are used to search for dolphins across our study area and once encountered we collect data on abundance, movement, habitat use, behavior and the overall health status of wild dolphins.

Total number of dolphins identified

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Population(s) Served

Adults

Related Program

Palm Beach Dolphin Project

Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success

Holding steady

Context Notes

The number of new dolphins identified provides insights into the population dynamics and habitat use of the dolphins inhabiting the coastal waters of the Palm Beaches.

Number of books distributed

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Population(s) Served

Adults

Related Program

Palm Beach Dolphin Project

Type of Metric

Other - describing something else

Direction of Success

Increasing

Context Notes

We give away copies of our book 'An Ocean of Inspiration - The John Olguin Story' to everyone who attends one of our dolphin experiences, an interpretative, citizen science activity.

Goals & Strategy

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Learn about the organization's key goals, strategies, capabilities, and progress.

Charting impact

Four powerful questions that require reflection about what really matters - results.

It is a pioneering conservation organization, dedicated to advance marine science and protecting local wild dolphins populations.
The Taras Oceanographic Foundation has been delivering on that hope and inspiration for more than 20 years. It advances marine science and the protection of marine wildlife and the preservation of coastal and underwater habitats in South Florida. Coastal areas and marine habitat in South Florida face a myriad of challenges that threaten their long- term future. Few ecosystems still exist where the impact of human activity has not been felt, threatening biodiversity and the long-term survival of many species.
We not only work to protect bottlenose dolphins, but entire ecosystems and the diverse flora and fauna sustained in these places of stunning natural beauty.
Through its dolphin and ocean conservation research, education, and cultural programs, the Foundation helps ensure the long-term survival of both people and the oceans.
The three major, specific goals are to:
• Understand dolphin communities, the social behavior and organization, habitat use, and their health status, and illustrate how their health is related to our own well being;
• Advance our understanding of plastic litter and its impact on marine life and human activities, and develop strategies and tools for the responsible use of natural resources;
• Empower citizens to advocate for the conservation of dolphins and the marine environment and educate the next generation of dolphin and ocean enthusiasts and stewards.

The pursuit of these goals is being paired with our commitment to a truly sustainable approach, including a zero carbon footprint, that ensures the Foundation’s operation does not have a negative impact on the very life systems it seeks to protect.

Our strategic approach to meet our goals involves a dolphin and ocean conservation research, and two Edu-tainment programs, a lecture and a concert series.

Dolphin and Ocean Conservation Research
This flagship program, also known as Palm Beach Dolphin Project, is a long-term conservation study under the General Authorization from the National Marine Fisheries Service, focusing on dolphin behavior, habitat use, social lives, population size, and the health of wild dolphins.
In addition to gathering critical baseline data about wild dolphin populations, we shed light on near-shore marine environment, and how the health of these top predators, and the conditions of the natural resources they depend upon, directly and indirectly, impact our own health and well-being.
Over the last 19 years we have identified more than 600 individuals; some are residents, others are transitory.
We also document and gather critical information about the health status of dolphins and the potential presence of pollutants and ocean litter, from macro to micro plastics.
Engaging in dolphin and ocean conservation today is the only way to ensure future generations can enjoy the marvel of wild dolphins living along our coast, the splendor of a sunrise or sunset on a pristine beach and will have access to healthy sea food.

The Meet the Scientist Lecture Series promotes the pursuit of science and technology and the communication and overall relationship between scientists and the people of the communities in which they live and work. The series also serves as a forum for all stakeholders and constituents to share their views and activities with a wider audience, while providing a wonderful resource of a wide range of information for students and adults alike.
Over the past 17 years this program has introduced more than 100 national and international world-class scientists and researchers, associated with a variety of local, national and international organizations. It has been especially gratifying that the lectures have become an informational nexus with a sufficient sphere of influence to facilitate and otherwise contribute to widespread policy advances and personal changes in attitudes.

The Ocean of Notes Concert Series has been around for 10 years. Music and science are closely related. It is the interaction of sounds, tempo, and pitch that creates music, just as facts and knowledge, combined with imagination and conjecture produces new scientific discoveries.
But music is so much more: it is an unexplainable manifestation uniquely human, pleasing to our ears, and nurturing our minds and souls. Appreciating environmental jewels and participating in their protection is equally rewarding and important. But for many people engaging in conservation has its own difficulties, including not knowing how to get involved or whether one can really make a difference. As it turns out music is wonderful way to engage the audience in specific conservation efforts or campaigns.

The Taras Oceanographic Foundation has permanent access to two research vessels, which are outfitted to conduct our dolphin and ocean conservation surveys. One of the vessels is also being used to advance the Foundation’s mission to enhance awareness and engage the public in dolphin and ocean conservation science.

The Foundation has a proven track record of successfully delivering the ‘Meet the Scientist Lecture Series, which it produces in concert with the Jupiter Environmental Research and Field Studies Academy of Jupiter High School (JERFSA). Over the past 18 years this program has introduced more than 100 national and international world-class scientists and researchers, associated with a variety of local, national, and international organizations. It has been especially gratifying that the lectures have become an informational nexus with a sufficient sphere of influence to facilitate and otherwise contribute to widespread policy advances and personal changes in attitudes. And with an average of close to 300 people in attendance, the Meet the Scientist Lecture Series has evolved into one the most successful program of its kind.
Similarly, the Foundation has an impeccable record of producing live concerts to the highest professional standards in the music business.

Finally, the Taras Oceanographic Foundation has a Board of Directors, the executive leadership and the supporting cast of interns and volunteers with extensive experiences across various fields of expertise, which together, ensure that the organization meets its goal.

The Taras Oceanographic Foundation operates small research vessels to conduct dolphin and ocean conservation research.
Over the past 19 years, we have conducted hundreds of surveys along the coastline of Palm Beach County, Florida. In the process, we have identified more than 600 individual bottlenose and spotted dolphins, some are residents, others stay for a while before moving on, just like their human counter parts, the so-called snowbirds, others yet are transitory. We continue to document and gather the abundance, behavior, social organization, and habitat use of wild dolphins off Palm Beach County, while also collecting critical information about dolphin health.

More than valuable intellectual exercises, our studies help us understand the threats dolphins are facing and teach us to care about the world. Generally, understanding begets caring.
In addition to gathering dolphin related data, we monitor and collect ocean litter encountered during conservation surveys and create high lightly accurate maps of critical underwater habitats, such as coral reefs and seagrass beds. These maps illustrate the temporal and spatial relationships of natural resources, environmental conditions, and human activities, and in fact have changed how we see the world.
Trying to understand requires the continuation of this longitudinal research effort and the Foundation is well positioned to continue its successful dolphin and ocean conservation research. We have recently begun to produce short films illustrating what we have learned about dolphins and the ocean as well as what challenges lie ahead and how the public can take of stronger participatory role in dolphin and ocean conservation.

The ongoing lecture series is in its 19th season and this program continues to have significant impact on the lives of those in attendance. Perhaps the clearest evidence of its success is the fact that on the occasion of the 10-year anniversary of the program, four of the speakers were former students who by then had earned their Master’s of Ph.D. We are looking forward to welcoming more former students as speakers in the coming years.

With regard to the concert series, the feedback we receive from the audience leaves no doubt that our concerts, with their mix of learning about the world and enjoying a live music performance, has a lasting impact on the audience, the performers, and those who watched the live stream of the event. People are clearly enjoying the experience, making great memories of it, and – through various initiatives (such as not to use plastic bags) get involved in conservation by making more sensible and informed choices in their personal lives, thus contributing to our conservation efforts, while helping to make the world a better place.

How we listen

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Seeking feedback from people served makes programs more responsive and effective. Here’s how this organization is listening.

done We demonstrated a willingness to learn more by reviewing resources about feedback practice.
done We shared information about our current feedback practices.
  • Who are the people you serve with your mission?

    Our dolphin and ocean conservation research clearly serves all people who live in palm Beach County, the scientific community at large, and everyone, no matter where they live, who seeks to learn more about wild dolphins and the oceans. Our lectures serve people of all ages and all social/economic segments but places a particular emphasis on middle and high school students. Our goal is to inspire them to develop a stronger interest and appreciation in marine science, but also in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM). Our concerts serve all people living in Palm Beach County and beyond no matter their age, social or economic background. We continuously seek feedback using various tools, including SurveyMonkey.

  • How is your organization collecting feedback from the people you serve?

    Electronic surveys (by email, tablet, etc.), Paper surveys,

  • How is your organization using feedback from the people you serve?

    To identify and remedy poor client service experiences, To identify bright spots and enhance positive service experiences, To inform the development of new programs/projects, To identify where we are less inclusive or equitable across demographic groups, To strengthen relationships with the people we serve,

  • What significant change resulted from feedback?

    We revamped out internship and volunteer program by being more transparent about the responsibilities of interns, setting out clear objectives of their work with us, and providing additional time and interactions to assist them identifying and pursuing their personal goals.

  • With whom is the organization sharing feedback?

    Our board, Our funders, Our community partners,

  • How has asking for feedback from the people you serve changed your relationship?

    It makes for a better relationship in that it enhances transparency, creates positive feedback loops and greater buy in. It also helps communicate how the people we serve can play a more active role through direct participation and support.

  • Which of the following feedback practices does your organization routinely carry out?

    We collect feedback from the people we serve at least annually, We aim to collect feedback from as many people we serve as possible, We act on the feedback we receive, We tell the people who gave us feedback how we acted on their feedback,

  • What challenges does the organization face when collecting feedback?

    It is difficult to get the people we serve to respond to requests for feedback, It is difficult to find the ongoing funding to support feedback collection,

Financials

Taras Oceanographic Foundation
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Operations

The people, governance practices, and partners that make the organization tick.

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Connect with nonprofit leaders

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  • Compare nonprofit financials to similar organizations

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Taras Oceanographic Foundation

Board of directors
as of 4/23/2022
SOURCE: Self-reported by organization
Board chair

Dr Stefan Harzen

The Taras Oceanographic Foundation

Barbara Brunnick Ph.D.

Benoit Duverneuil

Michael Alexander

Guillaume Belliard

Rhea Kraft

Board leadership practices

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

GuideStar worked with BoardSource, the national leader in nonprofit board leadership and governance, to create this section.

  • Board orientation and education
    Does the board conduct a formal orientation for new board members and require all board members to sign a written agreement regarding their roles, responsibilities, and expectations? Yes
  • CEO oversight
    Has the board conducted a formal, written assessment of the chief executive within the past year ? Not applicable
  • Ethics and transparency
    Have the board and senior staff reviewed the conflict-of-interest policy and completed and signed disclosure statements in the past year? Yes
  • Board composition
    Does the board ensure an inclusive board member recruitment process that results in diversity of thought and leadership? Yes
  • Board performance
    Has the board conducted a formal, written self-assessment of its performance within the past three years? Not applicable

Organizational demographics

SOURCE: Self-reported; last updated 4/23/2022,

Who works and leads organizations that serve our diverse communities? GuideStar partnered on this section with CHANGE Philanthropy and Equity in the Center.

Leadership

The organization's leader identifies as:

Race & ethnicity
White/Caucasian/European
Gender identity
Male, Not transgender (cisgender)
Sexual orientation
Heterosexual or Straight
Disability status
Person without a disability

The organization's co-leader identifies as:

Race & ethnicity
White/Caucasian/European
Gender identity
Female, Not transgender (cisgender)
Sexual orientation
Heterosexual or Straight
Disability status
Person with a disability

Race & ethnicity

No data

Gender identity

 

Sexual orientation

No data

Disability

Equity strategies

Last updated: 03/23/2020

GuideStar partnered with Equity in the Center - an organization that works to shift mindsets, practices, and systems to increase racial equity - to create this section. Learn more

Data
  • We employ non-traditional ways of gathering feedback on programs and trainings, which may include interviews, roundtables, and external reviews with/by community stakeholders.
  • We have long-term strategic plans and measurable goals for creating a culture such that one’s race identity has no influence on how they fare within the organization.
Policies and processes
  • We seek individuals from various race backgrounds for board and executive director/CEO positions within our organization.
  • We have community representation at the board level, either on the board itself or through a community advisory board.