Thoughts on the “Talking Trash” section at Science Online

January 3, 2010

Welcome to the zombie Oyster’s Garter, resurrected from the blogular grave to eat your braaains. Or at least to pick your brains (which in the context of zombies sounds most distressing.). At the upcoming Science Online conference, I will be co-moderating a panel called “Talking Trash: Online Outreach from the Great Pacific Garbage Patch.” The other panelists are freelance journalist Lindsey Hoshaw, who made news this summer by crowdsourcing her trip to the North Pacific and writing about it in the New York Times, and photographer/videographer/ocean advocate Annie Crawley, who was with me on the R/V New Horizon as a documentarian for Project Kaisei. (Bonnie Monteleone was originally going to be on the panel but unfortunately had a scheduling conflict.)

We are planning on letting our panel be largely audience-driven, but we would like to get a feel for what you are interested in. (If you are not attending Science Online, fret not – our session will be either livestreamed or recorded or both – if livestreamed you can ask questions on the web.) I can’t speak for my co-moderators, but I don’t want this session to get too hung up on specific marine debris issues – I think it would be much more interesting to talk about our experience trying to meld real-time science, nonprofit advocacy, outreach, and journalism.

Here are some preliminary questions. Please comment and tell us what you think. This is also posted at the Science Online wiki, and you are invited to comment there as well.

  • Why is the media & the public so interested in trash in the ocean? Can this interest be leveraged/created for other issues?
  • We are three people with different perspectives on what is important in communication: a scientist, a journalist, and a journalist-artist-filmmaker-documentarian.
    • What were our disagreements? Here’s a few examples off the top of my head: I did not agree with much of Lindsey’s NYT article; Annie had a tough time getting stressed-out scientists (me included!) to work with her while at sea, SIO is an academic institution while Project Kaisei and AMRF are nonprofit advocacy groups.
    • Do we as scientists/journalist/artists have a common goal? Beyond Littering Is Bad? Is loving the ocean enough?
    • If we do have a common goal, what are lessons learned from this summer? What would we do differently next time?
    • Can we offer advice to other scientists/journalists/artists trying to work together?
  • How can scientists, journalists, and educators balance “exciting findings live from the field!” with “highly preliminary unpublished non-peer-reviewed data that our labwork might contradict”? For example, one thing that is tough with advocacy and education is the scientific emphasis on peer-reviewed publication – the timescale is waaaay too slow for good real-time communication. How can we be accurate, entertaining, and educational?

Here’s some background on our experiences in the Gyre:

Miriam

Annie

Lindsey


Double X: How to make SURE he’ll never leave you

May 21, 2009

It’s Sex Week at Deep Sea News! In honor of my favorite dark, cold, and high-pressure threesome, my latest Double X post offers advice to all the deep sea lovelies just trying to hang on to their men:

Ever had the feeling that your male is getting restless? Think he’s not ready to settle down with you and have 10,000 larvae and a white-picket mud burrow? If you’ve got a hard time finding a man, a dwarf male might be right for you. Dwarf males have evolved to be tiny semi-parasites, forgoing feeding and swimming for a life of providing you with sperm-on-demand. Since dwarfism makes a good man easy to find (there he is, stuck to your shell or living in your gut!), it’s perfect for gals on the go. Here are three easy ways to keep your dwarf male with you for ever and ever:

More here. And be sure to get in on the rest of the super hot Sex Week action – there’s barnacle penii, wandering worm genitals, sea turtle orgies, and more!


Please encourage ocean conservation in the local paper

May 15, 2009

Several of my brilliant classmates managed to get themselves into the local paper, the San Diego Union-Tribune. They’ve written short essays on everything from shark fin soup to solar energy. These are conservation issues that the public needs to know about, and despite the Union-Tribune’s troubles, the newspaper still reaches over a quarter million people every day.

Unfortunately, my classmates’ essays are not reaching nearly that many people, as they are  currently buried very deep in the vast U-T site where no one will ever stumble across them. If you’re interested in encouraging budding scientists to communicate directly with the public, they would appreciate it if you would say so in the comments section.


TGIF: The ocean sure is pretty

May 8, 2009

After a week of running around Arizona and another week of utter grad school madness, things should be a bit more regular around here. In the meantime, relax on this lovely Friday with gorgeous underwater photography from the Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science’s 2009 amateur underwater-photography contest, republished by National Geographic. Here’s a few of my favorites.

Pygmy seahorse in Borneo

Male banded jawfish with eggs.

Male banded jawfish with eggs.

The mighty sea pig.

The mighty sea pig.


Opportunity for journalists to play in the ocean

May 5, 2009

I’m back and digging out from vasty piles of email and work. In the meantime, check out this supercool opportunity from Woods Hole. It’s a fellowship for journalists and communicators to learn about ocean science:

Through seminars, laboratory visits, and brief field expeditions, Ocean Science Journalism Fellows gain access to new research findings and to fundamental background information in engineering, marine biology, engineering, geology and geophysics, marine chemistry and geochemistry, and physical oceanography. Topics range from harmful algal blooms to deep-sea hydrothermal vents; from seafloor earthquakes to ice-sheet dynamics; from the ocean’s role in climate change to the human impact on fisheries and coastline change; from ocean instruments and observatories to underwater robots.

Thanks, Talina!


Subtle ways to tell your elephant seal that she’s not fat enough

April 22, 2009

Along with several other ocean bloggers, I recently received a email from AskMen.com plugging their Top 10 Ocean Rivalries piece. Though I generally think that bringing ocean love (or slime or violence) to new audiences is a Good Thing, some of the assholery at AskMen.com sets my feminist leg hairs on end. Then I realized that ocean love and mocking sexist bullshit are two great tastes that taste great together. So without further ado:

Subtle ways to tell your elephant seal that she’s not fat enough

Don’t you hate it when your special seal hauls up on the beach and you notice that she’s just not jiggling the way she used to? Blubber loss is a sensitive issue – after all, she’s spent weeks nursing a pup without eating. You can’t just bark “You’re losing weight and I find you less attractive!” You’ve got to make sure that’s she’s in the mood for love before she goes back to sea – as alpha male, it’s your job to get her pregnant before she goes back to sea for the year.

Don’t worry. We here at AskPinnipeds.com are here to give you the top subtle ways to tell your elephant seal that she’s not fat enough.

1) Dig her a comfy hole in the sand, but make it too big. When she tries to settle in but doesn’t fit, she’ll realize that she’s half the seal she used to be.

2) Couch it in terms of her health. What if she freezes in the deep sea or starves during molting season? Remind her that she’ll be going back to sea already pregnant, and that she needs her strength.

3) Playfully poke at her sides. She’ll feel self-conscious about her puny layer of fat and go back to sea early.

4) Pour sealant over her favorite section of the beach in order to glue the sand grains together. That way, when she hauls out, she’ll won’t even make a dent. Nothing plays on a seal’s self-esteem like undented sand.

5) If all else fails, “accidentally on purpose” squash her during mating. She’ll realize that if she was bigger, it wouldn’t be so unpleasant. That’ll show her!


The Great Turtle Race 2009!

April 17, 2009

Eleven leatherback sea turtles are vying for the Great Turtle Race championship! This event is meant to raise money and awareness of sea turtles’ peril – all 7 species are endangered due to destruction of nesting sites and drowning in fishing nets.

Deep Sea News has a special report from organizer Bryan Wallace:

Here’s a brain teaser for all of you deep-sea nerds out there: What do Pearl Jam, R.E.M., Conservation International, National Geographic, the Canadian Sea Turtle Network, Olympic swimmers, surfers, school kids, and scientists all have in common?

Give up? (You should. You’re never going to guess. This isn’t a sudoku puzzle.)

Answer: an online media event following 11 adult leatherback sea turtles on their trans-Atlantic migration from feeding grounds in Canada to breeding grounds in the Caribbean – The Great Turtle Race! The first turtle to cross the finish line and enters the Wider Caribbean wins!

Deep Sea News will also be getting in the act with the Iron Turtle contest – which turtles are EXTREME deep sea explorers? Meet the turtles and pick your winners!


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