Funding Marine Research or Conservation

Finding the funding to move exciting plans for a conservation expedition or research project from the drawing board to reality can be a daunting prospect. Competition for funding is often very high in the marine sector but if you have a great idea then don’t be put off as there are many sources of funding you can apply for. Here are just a few places to get you started:

International Whaling Commission

The IWC Small Cetacean Fund supports conservation research on small cetaceans. There are two levels of grant awarded – £5000 & £20,000. Deadlines are during spring each year.

The Marine Biological Association

The MBA has a variety of awards at different levels. See their website for further details.

Atlantic Whale Foundation

The AWF has an annual award of up to €5000 for projects supporting cetacean conservation in the Atlantic Ocean. Deadline is in June each year.

Marine Alliance for Science and Technology for Scotland (MASTS)

Masts Small Grants Scheme provides three levels of award up to £3000 for equipment purchases, workshop hosting or access to technology. Application deadline is in May each year.

Auckland Zoo

The Auckland Zoo Small Grants Programme awards two grants annually of up to NZ$5000 to support field conservation work. The award should constitute a mininum of 25% of the overall project budget. Applications accepted all year round.

National Geographic

The extremely competitive Committee for Research & Exploration Grant makes up to 250 awards annually of approximately $15,000-$20,000. Applications are accepted all year round.

Save Our Seas Foundation

The SOSF small grant funds research, conservation and education projects focusing on marine megafauna. Awards are for up to $10,000. Application deadlines are typically in April/May each year.

Challenger Society for Marine Science

The Challenger Society’s Stepping Stones Bursary awards up to £1000 in support of researchers looking to take the next career step. The award can be used towards any research related activity. Deadlines are quarterly (February, May, August, November). The society also has travel awards for lesser amounts.

Species Conservation Fund

The Mohammed Bin Zayed Species Conservation Fund is a very competitive award for conservation projects related to individual species. Awards are for up to $25,000 and there are three application deadlines per year (February, June & October).


The UK based charity Sea-changers supports marine conservation and education projects in the UK.

The Society for Marine Mammology

SMM provides individual awards of $1,500 annually to support field work by nationals of countries with developing economies. Application deadline in June.