Privacy Policy

Privacy Policy

Last updated: September 23, 2020

Welcome to the website (the “Site”) of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (the “Institution”, “WHOI”, “we”, “us”, or “our”). This privacy policy (“Privacy Policy”) explains what Personal Information (defined below) we collect, how we use and share that Personal Information, and your choices about our data practices. This Privacy Policy applies to all Personal Information provided to WHOI when you make a donation, register for an event or contest, enter a sweepstakes, sign up for a newsletter, purchase a product, visit the Site or otherwise provide us with information via the WHOI Website located at, or any other domain names owned or controlled by WHOI. It also applies to personal data you may provide to WHOI via telephone, email, regular mail, social media, texting, mobile applications, at a special event, in response to a solicitation, when visiting WHOI, or face-to-face.

Before using the Site or submitting any Personal Information to us, please review this Privacy Policy carefully and contact us if you have any questions. By using the Site or submitting Personal Information to us, you agree to the practices described in this Privacy Policy. If you do not agree to this Privacy Policy, please do not access the Site or otherwise provide us with Personal Information.


We collect information that, alone or in combination with other information in our possession, could be used to identify you (“Personal Information”) as follows:

Personal Information You Provide: We collect Personal Information when you engage in the activities described above. The Personal Information collected during these interactions may vary based on what you choose to share with us, but it will generally include your name, mailing address, e-mail address, and phone number (or that of another individual or family in whose honor you make a donation), as well as the payment information you use to make a donation. WHOI does not store credit card information and our credit card processing provider uses a system to remove sensitive data.

Personal Information We Collect Through Our Social Media Pages: We have pages on social media sites like Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Vimeo, and LinkedIn (“Social Media Pages”). When you interact with our Social Media Pages, we may collect Personal Information that you elect to provide to us, such as your contact details. In addition, the companies that host our Social Media Pages may provide us with aggregate information and analytics regarding the use of our Social Media Pages.

Personal Information We Obtain From Other Sources: We may obtain Personal Information from our partners, service providers, vendors, and other third parties that provide us with donor information and analytics.

Information We Automatically Collect From Your Use of the Site: When you visit, use, and interact with the Site, we may receive certain information about your visit, use, or interactions. For example, we may monitor the number of people that visit the Site, peak hours of visits, which page(s) are visited, the domains our visitors come from (e.g.,,, etc.), and which browsers people use to access the Site (e.g., Chrome, Firefox, Microsoft Internet Explorer, etc.), broad geographical information, and navigation pattern. In particular, the following information is created and automatically logged in our systems:

  • Log Data: Information that your browser automatically sends whenever you visit the Site (“log data”). Log data includes your Internet Protocol address, browser type and settings, the date and time of your request, and how you interacted with the Site.
  • Cookies: Please see the “Cookies” section below to learn more about how we use cookies.
  • Device Information: Includes name of the device, operating system, and browser you are using. Information collected may depend on the type of device you use and its settings.
  • Usage Information: We collect information about how you use our Site, such as the types of content that you view or engage with, the features you use, the actions you take, and the time, frequency, and duration of your activities.


The Site uses cookies to operate and administer our Site, gather usage data on our Site, and help improve and personalize your online experience. A “cookie” is a text file that is placed on your computer or device by a web page server. Cookies are uniquely assigned to you, and can only be read by a web server in the domain that issued the cookie to you. Cookies can be stored on your device for different periods of time. Some cookies expire after a certain amount of time, or upon logging out (session cookies), others survive after your browser is closed until a defined expiration date set in the cookie (as determined by the third party placing it), and help recognize your device when you open your browser and browse the Internet again (persistent cookies). For more information on cookies, please visit:

You have the ability to accept or decline cookies. Most web browsers automatically accept cookies, but you can usually modify your browser setting to decline cookies if you prefer. On most web browsers, you will find a “help” section on the toolbar. Please refer to this section for information on how to receive a notification when you are receiving a new cookie and how to turn cookies off. If you choose to decline cookies, you may not be able to fully experience the features of the Site. By choosing to use the Site after having been notified of our use of cookies in the ways described in this Privacy Policy, and, in applicable jurisdictions, through notice and acknowledgement of your consent, you agree to such use.

We and our third-party service providers, including Facebook, may use cookies, pixels, or other tracking technologies to collect information about your browsing activities over time and across different websites following your use of the Site, and may use that information to serve you advertisements. Advertising networks may also use cookies to collect Personal Information. Most advertising networks offer you a way to opt out of targeted advertising. If you would like to find out more information, please visit the Network Advertising Initiative’s online resources at and follow the opt-out instructions there.

If you access the Site on your mobile device, you may not be able to control tracking technologies through the settings.


This Site uses Google Analytics to track and analyze Site usage, such as the frequency with which our users visit various parts of the Site. This includes compiling statistical information concerning, among other things, the frequency of your use of our Site, the pages visited, and the length of each visit, as well as information about your device, operating system, internet service provider, IP address browser, language, and country. The information generated by the Google Analytics about your use of the Site will be transmitted to and stored by Google, Inc. in the United States. Google Analytics is not used to track your activities once you leave the Site. We have implemented the IP anonymization feature in Google Analytics which anonymizes your IP address to protect individual privacy. You can prevent your data from being collected by Google Analytics on our Site by downloading and installing the Google Analytics Opt-out Browser Add-on for your current web browser. For more information on Google Analytics privacy practices, read here and, for information on Google Analytics cookies expiration, read here.


The purposes for which we use Personal Information may include:

  • To provide you with information about WHOI’s activities, events, and other items of interest;
  • To deliver you newsletters and other content you request;
  • To process your donations and membership requests;
  • To support our development, philanthropy, fundraising, and advancement activities;
  • To send you messages about third parties’ products or services that may be of interest to you;
  • To run and provide our programs and activities;
  • To respond to your inquiries, comments, feedback, or questions;
  • To send administrative information to you, for example, information regarding the Site and changes to our terms, conditions, and policies;
  • To analyze how you interact with the Site;
  • To maintain and improve the content, functionality, and security of the Site;
  • To prevent fraud, criminal activity, or misuses of the Site, and to ensure the security of our IT systems, architecture, and networks; and
  • To comply with legal obligations and legal process and to protect our rights, privacy, safety, or property, and/or that of our affiliates, you, or other third parties.

Aggregated Information

We may aggregate Personal Information and use the aggregated information to analyze the effectiveness of our Site, to improve and add features to our Site, and for other similar purposes.  In addition, from time to time, we may analyze the general behavior and characteristics of users of our Site and share aggregated information like general user statistics with prospective partners. We may collect aggregated information through the Site, through cookies, and through other means described in this Privacy Policy.


We may use your Personal Information to contact you with newsletters and information about WHOI, or to provide you information about other products or services we believe may be of interest to you. For instance, if you elect to provide your email address, we may use that information to send you newsletters or special offers from our partners. You may opt out of receiving these emails by following the instructions contained in each promotional email we send you. In addition, if at any time you do not wish to receive future marketing communications, you may contact us. If you unsubscribe from our marketing lists, you will no longer receive marketing communications but we will continue to contact you regarding administrative matters and to respond to your requests.


In certain circumstances we may share your Personal Information with third parties without further notice to you, unless required by the law, as set forth below:

  • Vendors and Service Providers: To assist us in meeting our operational needs and to perform certain services and functions, we may share Personal Information with vendors and service providers, including providers of hosting services, cloud services, and other information technology services providers, email communication software and email newsletter services, web analytics services, advertising and marketing services, payment processors, customer relationship management and customer support services, and event management services. Pursuant to our instructions, these parties will access, process, or store Personal Information in the course of performing their duties to us.
  • Cooperative Partners and Other Third Parties: To assist us in achieving our mission, we may share certain donor Personal Information with cooperative partners to analyze our donor base, provide fundraising insights, supplement our donor lists, and match donors with other organizations they may be interested in supporting. In some instances, we may share Personal Information with third parties for their own fundraising or marketing purposes.  If you do not want your information shared with third parties for these purposes, you can contact usas outlined below to opt out of this sharing.
  • Business Transfers: If we are involved in a merger, acquisition, financing due diligence, reorganization, bankruptcy, receivership, sale of all or a portion of our assets, or transition of service to another provider (collectively a “Transaction”), your Personal Information and other information may be shared in the diligence process with counterparties and others assisting with the Transaction and transferred to a successor or affiliate as part of that Transaction along with other assets.
  • Legal Requirements: If required to do so by law or in the good faith belief that such action is necessary to (i) comply with a legal obligation, including to meet national security or law enforcement requirements, (ii) protect and defend our rights or property, (iii) prevent fraud, (iv) act in urgent circumstances to protect the personal safety of users of the Services, or the public, or (v) protect against legal liability.


In certain circumstances, providing Personal Information is optional. However, if you choose not to provide Personal Information that is needed to use some features of the Site, you may be unable to use those features. You may opt out of receiving our newsletters or other promotional email communications by clicking on the opt-out link included in every such email we send. You may also contact us if at any time you wish to be removed from our mailing list or if you would like to correct or change the Personal Information you have previously provided. To protect your privacy and security, we will take certain steps to verify your identity before granting access to your information or making corrections.


If you are a California resident and wish to opt out of sharing your Personal Information with third parties for their direct marketing purposes, please email WHOI at and clearly state your request, including your name, mailing address, email address, and phone number.


You use the Site and provide us with Personal Information at your own risk. We implement commercially reasonable technical, administrative, and organizational measures to protect Personal Information both online and offline from loss, misuse, and unauthorized access, disclosure, alteration, or destruction. However, no Internet or e-mail transmission is ever fully secure or error free. In particular, e-mail sent to or from us may not be secure. Therefore, you should take special care in deciding what information you send to us via the Site or e-mail. Please keep this in mind when disclosing any Personal Information to us via the Internet. In addition, we are not responsible for circumvention of any privacy settings or security measures contained on the Site, our service providers, or third party websites.


Certain of our educational content may be of interest to students, some of whom may be under the age of 13.  While we do not require that students provide Personal Information to access such educational content, we may automatically receive non-identifying information, as described in greater detail above, regarding students’ interaction with the Site.  Additionally, a student may choose to submit their Personal Information on our Site, such as by providing his or her email address to sign up for our newsletter.  If you have reason to believe that a child under the age of 13 has provided Personal Information to us through the Site, please contact us and we will endeavor to delete that information from our databases.


By using our Site, you understand and acknowledge that your Personal Information will be transferred from your location to our facilities and servers in the United States, and to the extent possible, U.S. law will apply to the use thereof.


The Site may contain links to other websites not operated or controlled by WHOI, including social media services (“Third Party Sites”). The information that you share with Third Party Sites will be governed by the specific privacy policies and terms of service of the Third Party Sites and not by this Privacy Policy. By providing these links we do not imply that we endorse or have reviewed these sites. Please contact the Third-Party Sites directly for information on their privacy practices and policies.


We may change this Privacy Policy at any time. When we do, we will post an updated version on this page. By continuing to use the Site or interact with us after we have posted an updated Privacy Policy, or notified you by other means if applicable, you consent to the revised Privacy Policy and practices described in it.


If you have specific questions or concerns about the Institution’s privacy policy, please email us at, call us at 508-289-2252, or write us at the following address:

Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution
Information Office
93 Water Street
Woods Hole, MA 02543