The Vulcan home office in Seattle overlooks the waters of Puget Sound’s Elliott Bay, and the organization’s connection to the ocean runs deep. In honor of World Oceans Day, the Vulcan team immersed itself in all things related to the ocean, from dramatic images of manta rays to beach cleanups to global shipping. 

An Economic Link

On June 3, Vulcan welcomed Seattle Port Commission Co-President Courtney Gregoire and science writer Eric Scigliano from Washington Sea Grant to talk about their work and lead a discussion around the Vulcan Reads spring book Ninety Percent of Everything: Inside Shipping, the Invisible Industry that puts clothes on your back, gas in your car and food on your plate

Vulcan Reads Oceans event

From left, Courtney Gregoire, Eric Scigliano and Vulcan's Raechel Waters.

The audience was interested to learn about the history, current state, and future of the shipping industry in Seattle. Scigliano tied the discussion to his work on Flotsametrics and the Floating World: How One Man's Obsession with Runaway Sneakers and Rubber Ducks Revolutionized Ocean Science that documents how oceanographer Curtis Ebbesmeyer unraveled the mystery of marine currents using flotsam and jetsam of industrial society – including cargo lost by ocean shippers.

Back on the Beach

A group of Vulcan employees then headed to the beach on Wednesday with the Pugetsound Keepers to help clean things up. Team members cleaned several beaches last year and saw the impact of garbage and debris. For example, cigarette butts are the most common form of plastic debris on beaches worldwide. They remain in our environment indefinitely and leach toxic chemicals that can harm aquatic life.

Vulcan Beach Cleanup

Vulcan employees cleaned a Seattle beach

The cleanup of Seattle’s Magnuson Park swimming beach was the first of four opportunities Vulcan employees will have this summer to make an impact on local beaches and aquatic areas.

A Deep Relationship

Our founders, Paul and Jody Allen, have had a long relationship with the ocean and in recent years have used their philanthropy to support projects that address ocean health.

Last year, The Paul G. Allen Family Foundation created a challenge in collaboration with The Oceanography Society for the development of new, science-based approaches for reducing the environmental and/or societal impacts of ocean acidification. The $10,000 prize was won by Dr. Ruth D. Gates from the Hawaii Institute of Marine Biology at the University of Hawaii at Manoa and Dr. Madeleine van Oppen from the Australian Institute of Marine Science for their idea to increase the resilience of critical and highly vulnerable coral reef ecosystems.

Also, Paul’s yacht, M/Y Octopus, is outfitted with a commercial-class scientific submarine and other ocean research equipment and is regularly loaned out for exploration projects, scientific research initiatives and rescue missions. In 2012, Octopus traveled to Iron Bottom Sound in the Solomon Islands to explore the unique sea life and the history related to World War II. Scuba diving is a passion for Paul and has driven many of the ocean-related programs and projects Vulcan has been part of.

Paul Allen Scuba diving

Vulcan Chairman Paul Allen is an avid scuba diver

Vulcan Blue is our companywide program that aims to reduce our impact on the environment, with a special focus on local watershed and ocean habitats.

Earlier this year, Vulcan set out to create the Ultimate Ocean App by hosting a Startup Weekend in March. The event brought together 67 people from inside Vulcan as well as outside experts to develop ideas designed to raise awareness of ocean health issues. Shawn Heinrichs, an Emmy Award winning cinematographer, photographer, scuba diver, and marine conservationist, spoke to the group about his efforts to raise awareness of and support campaigns for marine conservation through photography and films.

All of these efforts are just a part of how, each day, Vulcan is supporting and developing ideas and programs designed to protect oceans and sea life around the world. We encourage you to join us in participating in the activities around World Ocean Day


Working to tackle the world's toughest problems