OpenChannels has a team of dedicated bloggers addressing targeted aspects of ocean planning and management, including communication, technology, ocean uses, and more. Our bloggers are experts in the field, drawing from their own knowledge and experience.

The OpenChannels community can also benefit from your knowledge and experience. We appreciate the diversity of perspectives in this field and welcome the use of OpenChannels for sharing these views. Do you have a perspective on ocean planning you would like to share? We'll help you do that right now: just click the button above and follow the prompts. If you are interested in blogging but have questions, please email Raye Evrard at raye [at] We look forward to your contribution!

The OpenChannels Team

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Posted on September 13, 2016 - 11:04am, by nwehner

Everyone loves a good story. It’s in our DNA. Humans have a long history of storytelling, yet somehow it’s only now catching on with the sciences. If you’d like to get your work out there to a larger audience, storytelling is essential. Stories resonate with people in ways that facts and figures simply do not. Furthermore, stories and metaphors are much more memorable than facts alone. Don’t just tell your audience about your work, tell them a story.

I know at first this can sound quite daunting. I’ve participated in several storytelling workshops myself, often leaving without any idea how I could possibly tell a story about my work, or our mission here at OpenChannels. But like all things creative, it’ll come to you…eventually…when you’re totally not expecting it. If I can come up with a decent story about Google alerts and literature updates, you can come up with an excellent story about saving our oceans and coasts. I have faith in you! You can do it!

There are many, many resources out there for teaching storytelling for science and sharing your story across the globe. This blog will highlight just a small fraction of them.

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Posted on September 13, 2016 - 10:48am, by SeaSketch

If you’re a planner, the sheer number of tools available to support your work can be overwhelming, and trial by error can be tedious and time-consuming. Here, we describe two participatory mapping tools our partners are using in the Galapagos—SeaSketch and InVEST. We also share insights into what works and what could be gained by implementing these tools in tandem.

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Posted on August 31, 2016 - 1:41pm, by nwehner

Whether you’re writing a press release or a blog about your research, chances are you’ll be including an image or a visualization. If you’re including an image, I only have one suggestion for you: don’t put in a generic stock-photo. You know the kind I’m talking about. A lovely photo of a breaching whale, or a tropical beach, even though the work has absolutely nothing to do whatsoever with whales or beaches. While these are useful for click-bait, they perpetuate the myth that only charismatic megafauna and pretty places deserve protection. That’s not cool. It shows that you have no respect for your reader. If you can’t respect your audience and their intelligence to recognize when you’re throwing click-bait at them, then they will hold no respect for you, either.

Now if you’re including a visualization (i.e. chart or graph) in your press release/blog, I have much more advice for you! Namely:

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Dos Mares was created in January 2013 with the vision to contribute with the development of marine science, marine conservation and education in Central America. There are two Mission's Short Term Programs: The Legal Incorporation Program and the Local Approach Program. The Mission's Medium and Long Term Programs comprise sixteen programs distributed in Core Programs, Marine Science programs, Reinforcement programs and Awareness programs. To learn in more detail about the different programs, click on the white pads of the Dos Mares Conceptual Plan.

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Posted on August 23, 2016 - 1:25pm, by nwehner

Ever heard of the phrase, the Twitter fire-hose? That’s a colloquialism for all the data coming out of Twitter. And there’s a lot of data! Roughly 50-times the data available via the standard stream. On average, there are over 6,000 tweets sent each second. And that’s only Twitter we’re talking about here. Just think of how many Facebook and Instagram posts, snaps, and emails are sent each second (hint: it’s well over 1.3 million, every second, even accounting for the fact that about 50% of emails sent are spam).

Let’s say you read the last two blogs in this series: you have done some research in collaboration with a protected-area manager, it has clear management implications, the academic journal article is freely-available online, and you’ve written a short one-pager for the management audience. How are you supposed to share your work when you’re competing with the unfathomable amount of data your audience (and you!) are sifting through every second of every day?

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Posted on August 16, 2016 - 9:27am, by nwehner

In last week’s blog, I focused on the need for scientific publications to be available freely online. No managers are going to pay to access your pay-walled research. While Open Access publications are expensive, and review boards often force young researchers to publish in “top” journals, there are plenty of ways to get your research online for free. More in this topic to come. But in the meantime, we’ll focus on researching and writing with management in mind.

I must say, this isn’t rocket science. If you’re doing research to help conservation, do the research that’s needed by the people managing that resource. I hear countless stories from MPA managers (and others in similar situations) talking about the “fly-and-bye” tendency of academics. That is, they fly in from abroad, do a bunch of research, and then leave. Never to return to talk about their findings. Never even bothering to share their work with the managers, nor ask how it’s helped. Please, don’t be these kinds of people!

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Posted on August 11, 2016 - 11:30am, by nwehner

Let’s be honest: Academia hates poor people. The status quo needs to change. Quickly.

Despite compiling a Literature Library of over 5,000 items we here at MARE have no institutional access to pay-walled journals or database. No access to Elsevier’s journals, nor Thomson Reuters’, nor Springer’s. None.

In fact, we tried to buy access to Marine Pollution Bulletin once. We were quoted USD $10,000 for just myself and John Davis to have access to the journal for one year. Yes, you read that correctly: $10k for 1 year for 2 people. That’s $5,000/person/year. Needless to say, we didn’t purchase a subscription. (Did I mention MARE is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit? We are. That didn’t matter for the subscription costs).

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Posted on August 10, 2016 - 4:20pm, by SeaSketch

Analyzing user behavior with computer science methods is common in commercial website design, where a subfield called web analytics uses electronically gathered quantitative data to gain insights about user behavior. Commercial companies use this information for a variety of purposes, from improving search engine performance and customizing a user’s experience to targeting ads in ways that may seem unnerving. What can be done with the information depends on two key factors: (1) what and how information is collected (2) laws, polices, and norms governing the use of information.

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Posted on July 27, 2016 - 5:47am, by PJSJones

A special section of the journal Marine Policy (outline) has just been published that explores the realities of how marine spatial planning is actually implemented, through 12 case studies around Europe, employing a structured qualitative empirical approach. This represents a novel approach to research on marine spatial planning based on realities, rather than the theoretical and conceptual approaches taken by many such studies. 

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Posted on July 19, 2016 - 5:09pm, by SeaSketch

Why should we invest in geospatial tools? What makes them so valuable in science-based participatory process? In light of exciting progress toward the U.S. National Ocean Policy and marine spatial planning goals globally, and the proliferation of mapping portals and tools to support this work, we share this critical examination of MarineMap, the award-winning mapping platform that supported California's Marine Life Protection Act Initiative. From 2012 to 2014, the McClintock lab collaborated with Amanda Cravens, to investigate MarineMap, the predecessor to SeaSketch. A paper describing part of the results of that research was recently published, and we have boiled down the key lessons learned in this post.