There have been strong calls for scientists to share their discoveries with society. Some scientists have heeded these calls through social media platforms such as Twitter. Here, we ask whether Twitter allows scientists to promote their findings primarily to other scientists (“inreach”), or whether it can help them reach broader, non-scientific audiences (“outreach”). We analyzed the Twitter followers of more than 100 faculty members in ecology and evolutionary biology and found that their followers are, on average, predominantly (∼55%) other scientists. However, beyond a threshold of ∼1000 followers, the range of follower types became more diverse and included research and educational organizations, media, members of the public with no stated association with science, and a small number of decision-makers. This varied audience was, in turn, followed by more people, resulting in an exponential increase in the social media reach of tweeting academic scientists. Tweeting, therefore, has the potential to disseminate scientific information widely after initial efforts to gain followers. These results should encourage scientists to invest in building a social media presence for scientific outreach.
Communication and Education
Citizen science projects can empower students as science learners and practitioners by enhancing students’ understanding of science content and process, exposing them to science careers, and increasing their awareness of environmental issues on local and global scales. A citizen science program invites members of the public to collaborate with professional scientists on scientific research. Citizen science offers a highly motivating project for many marine science students. Both in a formal and informal educational environment, citizen science can yield benefits to teachers and students. By examining the successful youth-based citizen science program LiMPETS (Long-term Monitoring Program and Experiential Training for Students), this chapter discusses why and how to incorporate citizen science into marine science learning.
Previous research on the outcomes of environmental/marine education programmes has focused primarily on changes in knowledge and attitudes. However, students’ knowledge and attitudes do not necessarily directly predict outcomes of education programmes but rather serve as a proxy. Instead of focusing on content knowledge, this chapter shares findings from a study on environmental identity and discusses how the finding can be applied to marine education programmes to foster a strong ocean identity. An ocean identity is how people view themselves specifically in relation to an ocean environment. A student’s ocean identity takes into account non-traditional variables in education such as how students talk about relationships with non-human species, how values and life goals relate to the environment, and emotions expressed related to environmental fears and threats. Implications for practice and exemplary methods for fostering a strong ocean identity are shared. Examples include evaluating curriculum for potential biases related to values, focusing on self-transcendent reasons for behaviour change rather than monetary rewards, highlighting similarities between humans and other species rather than focusing on only differences, taking students outside to learn about the ocean, and learning to recognize when students are using coping strategies to deal with fears and threats related to the ocean.
Art-science collaborations are proliferating as the benefits of bringing artists and scientists together are increasingly recognised and supported. This paper documents an example of an artist and scientist with overlapping (as opposed to the more usual mutually exclusive) practices, in terms of artistic and scientific approaches to the research material. It illustrates how a collaboration between a marine social scientist (the author) and a visual artist within a specific art-science methodological framework helped to inspire a different approach to a marine protected area dispute between the Scottish Government and the small Scottish island community of Barra, Outer Hebrides, Scotland. The art-science collaboration resulted in Sea Stories, an interactive, online, cultural map of the sea around the island of Barra. The participatory mapping process to create the Sea Stories map involved visions and expressions of marine space being constructed through constant interaction between the research team and research participants. It revealed different ways of knowing the marine environment, hitherto not visible or acknowledged within the marine policy environment where the protection of biological diversity was the focus. The acknowledgement of a rich and diverse cultural heritage bound up with the marine biological diversity opened up possibilities for the design of a community-led and government-supported co-management process that recognises the social relations which form part of the island’s social-ecological system.
Recreational scuba diving is rapidly increasing, and the negative impacts to marine reef biota are of conservation concern. Educational approaches have been tested to mitigate diver damage to benthic organisms, but logistical constraints impede their implementation in many locations. We investigated the behaviors of scuba divers in terms of their contacts with benthic organisms, and assessed how an educational video-briefing caused changes in diver behavior. The video provided environmental information to divers, and enhanced their use of low-impact diving techniques. Divers who received the video-briefing exhibited significantly lower rates of contact with and damage to the benthos, than did divers who did not receive a briefing. The level of diving experience did not correlate with the rate of benthic contact in either group of divers. Male divers and photographers both contacted the benthos significantly less, and female divers and photographers both caused significantly less damage when they viewed the video-briefing prior to diving. Our findings highlight the importance of easily implemented, standardized educational approaches such as the use of video-briefings to mitigate the impacts of scuba diving. This study adds to the framework of tested strategies available to support the sustainable use of marine areas by the diving tourism industry.
This paper evaluates the effectiveness of a public information campaign, which was conducted on a major Greek Island (Syros), aimed at reducing plastic waste - and specifically plastic bags - in the local coastal/marine environment. A choice experiment was conducted to evaluate the effects on individual preferences for reducing plastic waste pollution under different status of environmental awareness, after the information campaign. The evaluation process was quite independent of the information campaign. Two samples of respondents were taken; one consisting of participants in the environmental campaign and the other consisting of non-participants. The results show: (a) significant differences between the preferences of the two samples; (b) variations in the willingness to pay values between the two samples for protection of the coastal/marine environment, but; (c) not significant differences in their commitment to take action (i.e. in their willingness to alter their current plastic bag use behavior).
In recent years, some scientists have expressed concern about the negative representation of the state of the oceans in the media. To examine this concern empirically, we analyzed the content of 169 articles in mainstream U.S. newspapers covering ocean-related research between 2001 and 2015. Content was categorized according to main issue, basis of evidence, causal attribution, presence of solutions and uncertainty, and coded for doom and gloom and optimistic language. Science journalism about ocean issues most commonly addressed climate change and the status of ocean species or populations. The majority of articles cited peer-reviewed research. Most articles attributed change to anthropogenic causes, although ocean science articles addressing climate change were less likely to do so. Uncertain language and solutions were observed in nearly half of all articles. Optimistic language outnumbered doom and gloom language across all categories. While doom and gloom language was identified in 10% of all articles, optimistic language was present in 27%.
Developing the workforce to meet the needs of the blue economy will require changing undergraduate marine science programs to provide a wider range of skills developed by “doing” rather than just “reading.” Students also need training on how to effectively work in a team, critically analyze data, and be able to clearly communicate key points. With that in mind, we developed a new undergraduate course (called Ocean Observing) focused on conducting research by analyzing data collected and delivered to shore in near real time from the growing global network of ocean observatories. The course structure is based on student teams that use data to develop a range of data products, many of which have been suggested by state and federal agencies as well as from maritime companies. Students can take the Ocean Observing course repeatedly throughout their undergraduate career. A complimentary second entry course (called Oceanography House) was developed to entrain freshmen first-term students into research on their first semester on campus. The Ocean Observing course has increased the number of marine science majors and the overall diversity of the marine science program and resulted in a dramatic increase in the number of independent student theses conducted each year. Over the last 10 years, student data profiles from the course emphasize the importance of conducting research in a public way so students can partake in the “adventure” of research before the outcome is known. To increase the public visibility of these “adventures,” collaborations between departments across the campus have developed nationally broadcast documentaries and outreach materials. Going forward, we seek to build on this success by developing an accelerated Masters of Operational Oceanography and link these undergraduate students with external companies through externships and coordinated research projects.
Social media has revolutionized how people communicate with one another. This has important implications for science, environmental advocacy, and natural resource management, with numerous documented professional benefits for people in each of these fields. Some fisheries management professionals have been wary of social media use, in no small part due to unfamiliarity. The goal of this paper is to summarize the professional benefits of social media usage that are applicable for fisheries science and management professionals and to provide a detailed guide for those who wish to get started. Though many Web 2.0 tools exist, this paper will focus on the use of Facebook, Twitter, and blogs.
Coverage of issues by news media is known to impact on both public perceptions and policy development aimed at addressing the featured issues. We examine the potential impact of news media coverage regarding the health and potential future of the World heritage-listed Great Barrier Reef, which is under multiple pressures, both natural and anthropogenic. We draw on the extant literature regarding the impact of news media coverage of other complex issues, linking to relevant, albeit limited theoretical concepts that have been applied to previous media studies. We find that media coverage is predominately sensationalized and negative, with the potential to reinforce perceptions that mitigation attempts will be ineffective and thus likely to inhibit future policy development. We discuss the need for a review of existing science communication models and strategies to reduce the knowledge-practice gap between scientists and policy makers, together with proactive strategies to counter negative news coverage.