The Ocean Literacy movement is predominantly driven forward by scientists and educators working in subject areas associated with ocean science. While some in the scientific community have heeded the responsibility to communicate with the general public to increase scientific literacy, reaching and engaging with diverse audiences remains a challenge. Many academic institutions, research centers, and individual scientists use social network sites (SNS) like Twitter to not only promote conferences, journal publications, and scientific reports, but to disseminate resources and information that have the potential to increase the scientific literacy of diverse audiences. As more people turn to social media for news and information, SNSs like Twitter have a great potential to increase ocean literacy, so long as disseminators understand the best practices and limitations of SNS communication. This study analyzed the Twitter account of MaREI – Ireland’s Centre for Marine and Renewable Energy – coordinated by University College Cork Ireland, as a case study. We looked specifically at posts related to ocean literacy to determine what types of audiences are being engaged and what factors need to be considered to increase engagement with intended audiences. Two main findings are presented in this paper. First, we present overall user retweet frequency as a function of post characteristics, highlighting features significant in influencing users’ retweet behavior. Second, we separate users into two types – INREACH and OUTREACH – and identify post characteristics that are statistically relevant in increasing the probability of engaging with an OUTREACH user. The results of this study provide novel insight into the ways in which science-based Twitter users can better use the platform as a vector for science communication and outreach.
Communication and Education
Mermaiding, the act of swimming in a monofin tail costume, is becoming increasingly popular. Although some merfolk (mermaids and mermen) only swim recreationally, many professional merfolk forge careers teaching at mermaid schools or performing at events such as birthday parties, corporate events, and special aquarium events. Many professional merfolk self-identify as ocean activists and/or ocean ambassadors. They use their performed identities and events as platforms for spreading ocean awareness and advocacy. Such exploitation of fantasy has been described within the merfolk community as a means to disseminate important conservation message within a positive outreach framework. This research explores the role of mermaiding and merfolk events in spreading ocean-related conservation messaging. It uses visual methods as part of a qualitative multimethods approach to analyze multiple sources of secondary data, including photographs, podcasts, videos, and blogs to contextualize the appearances of merfolk in performance events. Findings were used to produce a model depicting the creation of conservation-based knowledge sharing platforms through the incorporation of fantasy in and genera reenchantment of events.
The 1988 Brazilian Federal Constitution established the promotion of environmental education (EE) as a Government’s public policy, which constitutes an important legal frame addressing this subject in Brazil, also considering the EE activities in coastal and marine protected areas (CMPAs). This chapter presents the legal frame, concepts, and potentialities of EE in CMPAs. Also, it highlights some experiences of EE in Brazilian PAs particularly to identify gaps, potentialities, and specificities for the development of coastal and marine environmental education (CMEE). Despite the conceptual and legal support for the development of EE activities in CMPAs, managers have a great difficulty to achieve these goals given the lack of funding, resources, personnel, and training, among other challenges that will be presented throughout this chapter. Thereby, environmental interpretation strategies assume great importance as well as citizen science initiatives and partnerships between public entities, civil society, and educational institutions. Considering this, it is of fundamental importance to encourage the social participation and diversity of partnerships. Also, it is necessary to test and improve CMEE methodologies in order to potentiate the teaching and learning process and to strength the democratic participation in the CMPAs management. In addition, it is clear that the CMEE needs financial independence, which could be supplied by the ecotourism in the CMPAs, but such initiatives are still incipient in Brazil.
Creativity and playfulness are important skills that educators use to promote environmental awareness and changes in beliefs, attitudes, and values. The production of reusable and easily available didactic materials can assist in this process. The purpose of this chapter is to present some teaching and learning didactic materials developed in Brazil for different marine and coastal environmental education activities. We will present some examples of materials produced for interpretive trails, as well as books, guides, folders, radio programs, games, and materials for exhibitions. Also, we will reflect upon the necessity of enhancing the dissemination and sharing of these materials among Brazilian environmental educators as well as their proper evaluation.
Environmental non‐governmental organizations (ENGOs) largely select flagship species for conservation marketing based on their aesthetic appeal. However, little is known about the fundraising effectiveness of this approach or how it compares to ecosystem conservation campaigns that use habitat types as flagships. By performing a willingness to donate (WTD) survey of potential online donors from Finland, we identified which motivations and donor characteristics influence their preferences for a range of different flagship species and ecosystems. Using the contingent valuation method and the payment card approach, we found the combined funding for eight mammal flagship species was 29% higher funding than for eight bird flagship species. Furthermore, the aesthetically more appealing species, as well as the species and ecosystems that are native to Finland, attracted the most funding. We then used ordinal logistic regression to identify the factors influencing a donor's WTD, finding that knowledge of biodiversity conservation and familiarity with the flagship was associated with an increased WTD to birds and ecosystems, and people with higher education levels had an increased WTD to ecosystems. Surprisingly, species aesthetic appeal was not related to an increased WTD, although “need of conservation” was, suggesting that highlighting the plight of these less appealing threatened species or ecosystems could raise money. Our results suggest that the factors driving donating to mammals, birds or ecosystems differ, and so underline the importance of considering the diverse motivations behind donation behaviour in fundraising campaigns. They also provide new evidence of the motivations of online donors, an under‐studied group who are likely to become an increasingly important source of conservation funding.
Scientists active on sandy beach research were involved in a two-step process to depict the current status, highlighting critical points as well as strengths related to education on sandy beaches performed outside the academic environment. Firstly, an online questionnaire was submitted to the participants at the VIII International Sandy Beaches Symposium. The results were discussed and integrated by experiences at personal and institutional levels brought together by participants at the Symposium during a plenary workshop. Results highlighted a group of researchers engaged in education and outreach activities, willing to establish a dialogue which included the targets of education activities. Scientific literacy was seen as a necessary background for such a dialogue, in which specific gaps related to knowledge about sandy beaches could be addressed and rectified. A long-term vision and the establishment of a continuous path rather than one-off actions (as those related to specific, time-limited projects) was also seen as much needed for the implementation of effective actions. Main constraints preventing researchers from carrying out education activities outside academia were clearly identified as (in order of relevance): lack of recognition in terms of publications; lack of recognition in the academic environment; and lack of time. Considering these outcomes, the ideal dimension to establish effective solutions was identified at the national level. As a first step to counteract the constraints found, it is proposed to: target the collection of publishable data, e.g. basic indicators of success of education and outreach activities; and the use of “outreach” as an additional pillar for personnel evaluation. The provision of literacy principles should finally be the backbone of long-term actions.
Sustainable management of coastal ecosystems requires engaged communities—communities that support sustainable management policies and are willing to adopt behaviours that promote waterway health. Information provision is a common component of engagement practices, yet little is known about what type of information will most effectively motivate engaged communities. We conducted an experimental study (N = 702) examining the effectiveness of different messages about benefits of sustainable coastal management. We examined two messages about cultural ecosystem services (economic benefits and lifestyle benefits), messages focused on conservation benefits, and a ‘control’ message, which mentioned threats to coastal ecosystems but no benefits of management. We also compared the effect of factual and moral arguments on engagement outcomes. Overall, economic messages generated lower intentions to adopt household behaviours, and reduced information seeking across the whole sample. Moral arguments were not more effective than messages using factual arguments. In fact, factual arguments were associated with greater policy support and behavioural intentions. We also examined the role of participant values, political orientation and knowledge on message effectiveness. Participants with a conservative political orientation exhibited poorer responses to framed messages, compared with the control message. These findings highlight the importance of considering message content when communicating with communities. Specifically, messages about ecosystem services may not be superior to environmental messages when communicating about local issues. Recommendations for effective communication commonly suggest aligning messages with audience values. While our findings do not contradict this, they do serve as a reminder to avoid simple assumptions about what these values may entail, and that groups less supportive of conservation goals are likely to require more specific strategies to enhance communication effectiveness.
Marine environments are complex and dynamic social-ecological systems, where social perceptions of ocean stewardship are diverse, resource use is potentially unsustainable, and conservation efforts rely strongly on public support or acceptance. Decreasing trust in science in recent years has led to weakened social acceptance and approval of marine conservation science. Social licence is a concept that reflects informal, unwritten public expectations about the impacts and benefits of industry and government practises, including research, on natural resources, including the ocean. Working toward improving social licence may provide opportunity to bolster support for marine conservation, by allowing communities to engage with marine issues and marine science, and voice their concerns and views. Here, we argue that marine conservation requires social licence and we highlight science advocacy, accomplished through outreach, as a means to achieve this. We identify a role for marine conservation science to engage with the public through advocacy to improve understanding and perceptions of conservation. Drawing from the literature, we describe how science advocacy can enhance social licence for marine conservation research and outline four steps that can advise marine conservation scientists to achieve and promote social licence for their research and the wider marine conservation community.
This article discusses the tendency within environmental communication to homogenise diverse situations. Utilising the case of whale conservation it describes how actors on both sides of the whaling debate utilise the ‘super-whale’ – a homogenised discursive construct. The article argues that there are pragmatic advantages to such framing of environmental situations but also costs. In the case of whale conservation, the super-whale maintains focus on whaling rather than other, arguably more pressing, threats to whale species. More generally, utilising such framing tactics arguably prevent the voicing of new narratives about the global social order.
For protected areas to achieve their conservation goals, visitors should be aware of reserve boundaries and follow the protective measures within them. However, lack of knowledge about the specifics of reserve geography and rules can lead to actions that adversely affect marine life (unsanctioned fishing and collecting) or disturb sensitive species within these areas, even when general support for protected areas is high. We assessed public awareness of State Marine Reserves locations and policies on the central California coast. Using surveys in the form of semi-structured interviews and written questionnaires, we asked beach visitors whether they had prior knowledge about State Marine Reserves. We provided half of participants with new knowledge about State Marine Reserves in the form of a verbal, short pre-survey speech. We asked participants to indicate if they were currently standing inside of a State Marine Reserve and assessed their self-reported likelihoods of performing several actions related to environmental etiquette such as following reserve rules. Finally, we tested how provisional new knowledge influences perceptions surrounding the importance of protecting marine habitats and human impacts on them. Overall, 60% of participants had heard of marine reserves, though this varied by participant region of residence. 33% of participants with prior knowledge and 13% of participants with no prior knowledge identified site protection status correctly. Over half of participants self-reported behaviors consistent with reserve rules and environmental etiquette. Survey participants who received new knowledge did not differ from the control group in their ability to correctly identify reserve location or in their perceptions of human impacts. Our results suggest that the information in our short verbal speech was not sufficient for changing perceptions, though over 90% of visitors stated marine protection to was already personally important or very important to them. Beach visitors intend to treat reserves well if they know they are visiting a reserve. However, because less than one third of visitors recognize reserve locations, a disconnect exists between understanding acceptable behavior for protected sites and knowing where to apply this behavior. Finally, we discuss the educational strategies of docent presence and place-based learning opportunities to improve awareness of marine reserves and their locations for local and non-local visitors.