Collaborative Programs

Leading Edge of Marine Science

Benioff Ocean Initiative (BOI)

Science and technology to improve ocean health

MSI Benioff Ocean Initiative deploys a whale safe buoy
Photo: Todd Cravens

Benioff Ocean Initiative merges science and technology to improve ocean health. The initiative started in 2016 when Marc Benioff, founder and co-CEO of Salesforce and ocean advocate, and his wife, Lynne Benioff, gifted $10 million to promote science-based ocean problem-solving at UCSB.

The mission of Benioff Ocean Initiative is to leverage the power of science to solve ocean problems and inspire the replication of these successes. Through online campaigns, the Benioff Ocean Initiative invites members of the public to share ocean problems they wish to be solved. Each project cycle, the initiative assembles a team of experts to build a scalable, tech-based solution to a crowdsourced ocean problem. The first crowdsourced project, initiated in 2017, is developing a near-real time whale detection system aimed at reducing collisions between cargo ships and whales in the Santa Barbara Channel. The second crowdsourced project, initiated in 2020, is piloting technologies for capturing plastic waste in 9 rivers around the world before it reaches the ocean.

Benioff Ocean Initiative researchers also provide guidance on domestic and international marine policy, and develop practical, science-based tools to address important ocean issues.

Benioff Ocean Initiative is directed by Dr. Douglas McCauley, an Associate Professor in the Department of Ecology, Evolution, and Marine Biology.

To learn more about Benioff Ocean Initiative, visit