Leonardo DiCaprio Donates $3 Million to Ocean Conservation

Actor Leonardo DiCaprio attends the National Board of Review awards gala at Cipriani 42nd Street, in New York
Actor Leonardo DiCaprio. (Photograph by Evan Agostini/Invision/AP)

Leonardo DiCaprio has been getting plenty of buzz for his Oscar-nominated role in The Wolf of Wall Street, but he recently proved that these days, he’s investing in much more than his career—he’s also investing in the future of our oceans.

Oceana, the largest international organization focused solely on ocean conservation, just announced a $3 million grant from the actor’s Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation, which was founded in 1998 and is “dedicated to protecting Earth’s last wild places and fostering a harmonious relationship between humanity and the natural world.”

The grant, which will be spread out over a three-year period, will be used to protect threatened ocean habitats and keystone marine species (including sharks), as well as advocate for responsible fishing measures.

“Protecting our planet’s oceans and the marine species that call it home is one of the most pressing sustainability crises facing humanity today and a moral imperative that we must acknowledge,” DiCaprio said in a press release.

“It’s my hope that this grant will help Oceana continue the tremendous work that they do daily on behalf of our oceans.”

One specific campaign that will be supported by the grant is Oceana’s aim to ban drift gillnets off of southern California. The fishing nets target swordfish and thresher sharks, but often catch and kill many endangered marine animals including whales, dolphins, sea lions, and sea turtles.

Oceana CEO Andy Sharpless said that the impact of DiCaprio’s grant will not only help the ocean become more abundant and biodiverse, but it will also create “wilder and more pristine ocean habitats and oceans that can feed over a billion people—many of them hungry—a healthy seafood meal each day.”

The Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation has also provided grants to other organizations for causes including access to clean water, saving tigers from extinction, and protecting Antarctica. DiCaprio himself is well-known for his environmental activism, and in 2007 he wrote, produced, and narrated The 11th Hour, an environmentally themed documentary.

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Sonia Harmon is the blog coordinator at National Geographic. She has also written for Ladies' Home Journal magazine and Washingtonian magazine.