Who We Are

The American Cetacean Society protects whales, dolphins, porpoises, and their habitats through public education, research grants, and conservation actions.

Founded in 1967, the American Cetacean Society (ACS) is the oldest whale conservation group in the world. ACS is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization with eight chapters – Los Angeles, Monterey Bay, Orange County, San Diego, San Francisco (CA), Puget Sound (WA), Oregon (based in Newport), and a National Student Coalition based out of Indiana University Bloomington.  We are working on adding chapters in New England, Central Florida, Channel Islands (CA), Galveston (TX) and possibly more! Our members live throughout the United States and in more than 20 countries.

We take our responsibility as participants in the web of life seriously, and volunteer our time and resources to not just protect whales, dolphins and porpoises, but to promote the health of the oceans and ultimately our planet as well.

How It All Began

The history of ACS is rich in irony. While founders Bemi DeBus and Clark Cameron were exploring the notion of eradicating world hunger by "farming" whales, they discovered that the whales themselves needed saving. They looked for an appropriate conservation group to collaborate with, but found nothing. With the help of scientists, educators, and yacht owners who volunteered to take people whale watching, ACS was launched on November 3, 1967. At that time, it was the only whale conservation group on the planet and the first to take groups of children on whale watching trips.

During the past 30 years, more than two million children and thousands of adults have enjoyed whale watching trips sponsored by ACS. The impact of these grassroots efforts can be measured by the increasing worldwide popularity of whale watching (a one billion dollar per year industry that now attracts nine million participants in 87 countries) and the growth of a global conservation movement that ACS helped to launch.

ACS's grassroots efforts to raise awareness and inspire people through whale watching and other educational programs led to a campaign that produced one of conservation's greatest success stories - the recovery of the Pacific gray whale. This is the only species of great whales to be removed from the Endangered Species List.

What makes ACS unique among the many conservation groups that exist today is our ability to bridge the gap between the layperson and the complex world of science and research. All of our programs support the most important component of our mission - education - and their primary purpose is to inform and inspire.

What We Do

Our web site statistics show that the free educational resources we offer are reaching a growing global community of conservation-minded students, teachers and members of the public who depend on ACS for reliable information. More than 200 educational organizations link to our web site, including Discovery.com, National Geographic, PBS, the Smithsonian Institution, and Scientific American, as well as all the major search engines.

In addition to sponsoring whale watching trips for school children, teens, adults and seniors and producing free K-12 teaching aids, ACS funds scientific research, sponsors international conferences, publishes a journal, maintains a naturalist training program, and participates in whale and dolphin census programs. ACS also participates in conservation advocacy campaigns such as preventing the use of harmful sonar and attending meetings of the International Whaling Commission to persuade its members to uphold the moratorium on commercial whaling. Chapters also focus on issues unique to their geographical areas. This dual approach of rigorous scientific inquiry combined with community outreach is what sets ACS apart from other organizations.