Peter Neill – Director, World Ocean Observatory (W2O)



peter neillPeter Neill is Director of the World Ocean Observatory (W2O) , a web-based place of exchange for information and education about the ocean defined as “an integrated, global, social system,” transcending conventional emphasis on species and habitat to relate the ocean to such issues as fresh water, climate, food, energy, trade, transportation, public health, international finance, policy and governance, economic development, mega-cities, and coastal culture.


“Look down upon the earth and view an ocean world in which float islands—be they atolls, nations, or continents. What are the characteristic values of such places?  Independence, self-reliance, practicality, frugality, ingenuity, respect for work, success within limits, cooperation, and community.  What if we suddenly draw invisible lines in urban places and apply these values there?  What if we all start acting like islanders, expressing such values individually, locally, and nationally in our purchases, our institutions, our expectations of governance, our life choices? What if we start thinking like an island?”


W2O aggregates global ocean organizations and resources, produces audio-visual materials (syndicated radio, on-line exhibits, themed events, films, social media, lectures, and a forthcoming e-magazine), and provides additional proactive products to aquariums, science centers, educational institutions, governmental and non-governmental organizations, and individuals to build a public awareness and a new global constituency for the ocean.


Mr. Neill served 20 years (1985-2005) as President of the South Street Seaport Museum, New York; as past Director of Schooner, Inc., an environmental education organization for Long Island Sound (1980-1984); as past Director of the Connecticut Marine Science Consortium (1982-1984); and as past Director for Maritime Preservation for the National Trust for Historic Preservation (1984-1985). He is a past President of the Council of American Maritime Museums and the International Congress of Maritime Museums.


He is a co-founder of The Sound School, New Haven, CT., and The Harbor School, New York, NY, two innovative public high schools that use maritime history and environment as a context for teaching and learning. He has appeared on numerous television documentaries on PBS, A&E, Discovery and National Geographic Society productions, and has lectured widely on ocean issues.