About Me

This blog is primarily geared toward staff at the zoos, aquariums, museums (ZAMs), and other conservation education organizations that are part of our growing global network. We aim to provide you with cutting edge, challenging, and creative information, ideas, and tools to become as effective as possible at communicating about and for conservation with your visitors and the public.

See our ongoing communications research, or join our growing network, at The Ocean Project's website.

December 17, 2009

Helping our Partners advance conservation

Thank you for your involvement in ocean and aquatic conservation and for being a part of our growing network of Partners around the world. Everything we do is for our Partners so please read on and make sure you are taking full advantage of your participation in this global network!

The past year we have invested heavily in a number of initiatives that we feel will significantly help our Partners to advance conservation:

Provided Partners with cutting edge market research - the results from the single largest, most comprehensive public opinion research project ever undertaken on behalf of any environmental concern and the implications of this research are providing valuable insights for you as Partners to help you better understand your audience and develop meaningful and actionable messages related to climate change, the ocean, and related environmental issues. In 2010 we will continue our semi-annual tracking surveys, testing messages and measuring successes so make sure to visit the website to get the latest.

Expanded World Oceans Day to a new level — after six years of The Ocean Project working with the World Ocean Network to promote and coordinate World Oceans Day, and to petition the United Nations to recognize this annual event, the UN officially designated World Oceans Day as June 8 of each year. WOD 2010 is already shaping up to the biggest and best yet!

Improved the Seas the Day personal action initiative — as with all our work this personal action initiative is for you and our other Partners to use, customize, and provide tangible ways for your visitors and the public to help. The site provides you with fresh content each month focusing on a different conservation theme, a conservation action tip of the day, ocean picture of the day, and much more that can all be easily tailored for your institution's needs.

Developed tool for a watershed visualization and community involvement — this exciting new conservation education and action tool will be available online soon (preview here) for all our Partners to customize. It is being produced to help your visitors (onsite or online) better understand their connections to their watershed and path to the sea, and help them take conservation action in their communities and regionally.

Grew our global Partner network — you are part of the largest such effort for ocean conservation ever developed, with almost 1,000 Partners: aquariums, zoos, museums, and other conservation education centers, organizations, and agencies, in 49 US States and 85 other countries. Check them out and connect with them on the interactive international map.

Significantly enhanced dynamic website for Partners we are constantly updating our interactive site for you, with lots of valuable info, resources, tools, and inspiration — again, it's for you to use and customize.

Looking ahead, we have many initiatives and activities planned in 2010 and beyond to leverage our research results and other activities, both in the U.S. and, increasingly, internationally.

To help us help you and our other Partners, we would greatly appreciate a year-end, or year-starting, contribution. The Ocean Project receives voluntary contributions from time to time from our Partners, and we thank you very much — with extremely low overhead (small rented space in an old church, with our team of 1.5 paid staff and two interns) your contribution goes far.

Any amount, from $5 to $5,000 is most welcome! You can securely donate online or we can provide an invoice. For a contribution of $500 or more to The Ocean Project your institution or organization becomes a Supporting Partner; for a contribution of $5,000 or more you can become a Sustaining Partner — both types of contributors receive many benefits based on their level of giving, which you can learn about through the website links just highlighted.

Thank you for your involvement in this growing network and for making a donation now or budgeting for a contribution in the future! We look forward to working with you to achieve great outcomes in 2010, and beyond!

December 11, 2009

Opening Film from Copenhagen

It's only 4 minutes and 13 seconds and well worth it!

Climate Scoreboard

This Climate Scoreboard helps track progress in the ongoing negotiations in Copenhagen to produce an international climate treaty. The Scoreboard allows users to check, on a daily basis, whether proposals in the treaty process commit countries to enough greenhouse gas emissions reductions to achieve widely expressed goals.
This Scoreboard shows the score -- expected temperature in 2100 if current proposals in the global climate negotiations were fully implemented.
When country proposals to the UN change, a team in Copenhagen will immediately update the analysis using the C-ROADS simulator. In real time, around the world, wherever it is posted, the Scoreboard will automatically update – showing both the progress that has been realized and the effort still required to achieve the goal.
Use this tool to help inform your colleagues, friends, and/or visitors to your facility and website about the gap between what we want and where we are headed!
Link to the Scoreboard: http://climatescoreboard.org for more info and so you can also embed their widget easily on your site, blog, Facebook, etc. to help spread the word! Watch The Climate Scoreboard Video from Climate Interactive on Vimeo.

December 10, 2009

Coral and Climate Message for Copenhagen

This powerful 12-minute video was developed for the Copenhagen summit. Coral reefs first appeared more than 400 million years ago. This film shows the devastating effect of climate change on the world’s incredible, diverse coral reefs. It paints a disturbing picture of a world that has lost its reefs forever - our world in 2065.

You can also watch a two minute version of this video, download and embed it where you can, and help spread the word!

The film was produced by Earth-Touch, and is a collaboration between Zoological Society of London and GLOBE International.

Powerful information tool for Copenhagen and global citizens

The Climate Scoreboard Video from Climate Interactive on Vimeo.

November 19, 2009

How Understanding the Human Mind Might Save the World

An article today by Annie Jia in ClimateWire and reporting from the recently-concluded third annual Behavior, Energy and Climate Change Conference, nicely summarizes what we need to stay focused on to create a culture change, and a better, healthier planet for all.

Understanding people is the key, and it's why The Ocean Project invests so much in market research and making the findings and implications widely known for our Partner network and the wider conservation community, to take advantage of to become most effective.

As the article states, "Thinking does not equal doing" and it discusses how critical it is to move beyond thinking that helping people understand the issues and changing people's attitudes will translate into action. Because it doesn't.

Doug McKenzie-Mohr, a guru in community focused social marketing, discusses how effective programs are designed to change behavior surrounding climate change and other issues, by first understanding and addressing the barriers to action. Knowing the exact barriers can help you tailor programs to address them.

One critical barrier is people not knowing what actions to take in order to help. This is also a key finding from our recent market research: It is clear that, zoos, aquariums, and museums (ZAMs) are trusted messengers for information on issues and increasingly the public is looking to our Partner ZAMs to provide solutions to the issues that people can incorporate into their daily lives.

The article also discusses how social networks are powerfully effective ways to affect people's behaviors.

You can read the whole article, reprinted here in the New York Times.

November 18, 2009

Results Available from First Ocean and Climate Change Tracking Survey

The results from our first tracking survey are now available online. Also on our website are a couple of recent presentations from AZA that explain the findings, including America and the Ocean v2.0 — A Summary of Findings Developed by The Ocean Project, by the lead researcher for this initiative, Scott Corwon, with IMPACTS.
The Ocean Project is conducting ocean and climate tracking surveys every six months, to measure changes and test messaging. These tracking surveys nicely complement the comprehensive research that we completed in 2008 on public awareness, attitudes, and behaviors concerning the ocean, climate change, and related issues. This national survey is the largest ever on any environmental issue, with 22,000 American adults surveyed. We also have some data on youth, as well as Canadian adults.
To access the latest survey findings, click here.

November 13, 2009

Leadership on climate change from most vulnerable nations

Earlier this week, and just a few weeks before talks in Copenhagen, President Mohamed Nasheed of the Maldives, a nation facing the very real threat of being overwhelmed by rising seas due to climate change, gave an impassioned speech at the Climate Vulnerable Forum. In it he challenged the nations most vulnerable to climate change to demonstrate moral leadership, and join a "global survival pact" by committing to carbon neutral development. Read the speech via link above and/or watch some of it here.

October 21, 2009

International Day of Climate Action on October 24

Hopefully by now you have heard about 350.org's efforts around the world this weekend and are planning to join an action to draw attention to climate change. As of today there are over 4,000 events planned in 170 countries.

The reason for the group's name? Scientists say that 350 parts per million CO2 in the atmosphere is the safe limit for humanity. Many believe it needs to be even lower. Regardless, we are currently at 387 ppm and we need to move faster on lowering that number.

Join an activity where you live (or start one) and take action this weekend!

Learn more about why 350 ppm is so important for coral reefs and our world's ocean.

October 16, 2009

Sigourney Weaver Takes on Ocean Acidification

ACID TEST, a film produced by NRDC, was made to raise awareness about the largely unknown problem of ocean acidification, which poses a fundamental challenge to life in the seas and the health of the entire planet. Like global warming, ocean acidification stems from the increase of carbon dioxide in the earth’s atmosphere since the start of the Industrial Revolution.

View the film (22 minutes) and learn more about "the other CO2 problem."

Watch Sigourney Weaver deftly steer an interview on Fox News toward this important topic and film, rather than focusing on her upcoming (blockbuster-to-be, Avatar).

Then do more to help: Seas the Day!

A Blueprint for Restoring the World’s Oceans to Health

Sylvia Earle - also known as "Her Deepness" and featured earlier this year in this blog when she won a coveted TED Prize - has written a book, The World is Blue: How Our Fate and the Ocean's Are One, published earlier this year and in which she discusses the huge changes in the world's ocean she has witnessed over the decades and offers her hopeful thoughts on how we can restore the health of our shared world ocean.

In an interview with Yale Environment 360, Earle provides her wise take on the state of our world ocean and what can be done, summarized nicely here: “We get to choose. We either get to choose by conscious action or by default because we are complacent... thinking somebody else will look after this. But nobody else will take care of these issues.”

Read the interview with Sylvia Earle, watch her on Colbert Nation (after the :30 commercial, you'll get a 5:47 interview by Stephen Colbert with Sylvia Earle) , and then remember to take action to help our world's ocean: Seas the Day!

October 15, 2009

NOAA Announces Ocean Education Grants to Aquariums

On October 5, NOAA announced 11 grants totaling more than $9 million that will create new education projects in aquariums across the nation. The projects will educate visitors about the ocean and encourage better stewardship of the marine environment.

Read NOAA's full news posting.

October 12, 2009

Act now to improve environmental literacy

The Ocean Project is working with a diverse coalition to secure broad bipartisan in Congress to help advance ocean conservation by improving environmental literacy and, as a result, American competitiveness in the global economy.

Representative Lois Capps (Democrat from California’s 23rd congressional district) recently introduced a bill, HR. 3644, the Bay-Watershed Education and Training Regional Program and National Environmental Literacy Grant Program Act. This bill authorizes and strengthens NOAA’s (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) existing Bay-Watershed Education and Training (B-WET) and Environmental Literacy Grants (ELG) programs.

These two programs - B-WET and ELG - have funded many valuable activities including The Ocean Project’s recent public opinion research – America, the Ocean, and Climate Change – made possible with support from the ELG program. Without NOAA funding, our Partners and other friends would not be receiving the latest - and ongoing - market research providing insights into how to more effectively reach and engage Americans for conservation.

How to Help:

We are collaborating with others to help secure more support for this bill by getting additional co-sponsors. The bill has been referred to the House Natural Resources Committee and on October 15, the relevant subcommittee, the Natural Resources Subcommittee on Oceans, Wildlife, and Insular Affairs, is holding an important hearing.

Anyone in the United States - Ocean Project Partners and individuals - can help by letting your congressional representative know you care about this issue, and, ideally, asking them to co-sponsor the bill. Action in the Senate will be forthcoming and we will inform you of opportunities as they arise but certainly let your Senator know of your interest now to get it on their radar screen.

You can see a list of co-sponsors, learn more about this bill, and track its progress at the govtrack.us. The website has lots of valuable information and resources to improve civic involvement, including finding out whom your congressional representatives are in case you are not sure.

More info:

This effort is about how informal science can significantly supplement science education beyond what is being provided for in our schools.

As recommended by many, including the National Academy of Sciences, investments like these can greatly help to turn around America’s relative decline in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) when compared to other nations that are generously funding these types of educational programs.

It is important to now establish these programs – B-WET and ELG – in law, consistent with the education mandates provided to NOAA in both the America COMPETES Act (PL 110-69, Sec.4002) and the Omnibus Public Land Management Act (PL 111-11, Sec. 12304).

By passing this legislation with broad bipartisan support we can significantly improve STEM education and environmental literacy, will help enhance American competitiveness, and help create healthier communities and watersheds around our country. Ultimately, all this will improve the health and abundance of our shared world ocean.

October 5, 2009

The Ocean Picture Of the Day

Due to the overwhelming success of both the Earth Science Picture of the Day (ESPOD) and Astronomy Picture of the Day (APOD) daily picture sites, The Ocean Project has rolled out the Ocean Picture of the Day (OPOD), available to you since September 1, 2009.

While the ESPOD and APOD sites connect us to scientific principles that indirectly bring out the awe in our respect for planet Earth and space, the OPOD is a place for world citizens to proclaim love for our world's shared ocean. Why don't you submit an ocean-related (or Great Lakes related) photo and tag the emotion that came along with participating in that photo shoot. The Ocean Project staff will contact you via the e-mail address you provide to let you know when your picture has been selected.

We can all be mindful of the ocean so we can consider its conservation more often in our day-to-day lives. Images have amazing power to stir individuals to action and by participating in the OPOD service, you can tell part of your story. Share your favorite ocean image to help remind everyone of why it's important to protect and conserve our oceans and coasts.

September 21, 2009

Once in a Lifetime Opportunity for our Oceans, Coasts, and Great Lakes

Earlier this month The Ocean Project submitted comments to President Obama and the Interagency Ocean Policy Task Force in order to help them develop the most effective national policy to protect and conserve our oceans, coasts, and Great Lakes. The Ocean Project’s letter focused on how it is critical to include a comprehensive federal strategy and plan for ocean and climate literacy in developing a national ocean policy and management and stewardship framework. We strongly urge the Administration to integrate environmental literacy (including ocean and climate literacy) as a critical component and goal of all agencies, departments, and strategies related to ocean stewardship and conservation.

Please contact The Ocean Project if you would like to read our comments.

During this important opportunity we urge all Partners and friends in the US to weigh in by submitting your own comments and attending the public hearings if possible. Turning up in person is best but you can also connect via live webcasts or call in to the listen-only pone line. Find out more on how to participate at their website.

In addition, the Task Force has just released an interim report that you can access and comment on here.

The Obama Administration is providing us with a great chance to help shape the future health of our oceans, coasts, and Great Lakes. Please take advantage of this once in a lifetime opportunity!

September 9, 2009

American Psychological Association Task Force on Psychology and Climate Change

Why do people continually say that issues such as climate change are important but people don’t feel a sense of urgency? Perhaps psychologists can help get people to act.

A recent press release from the American Psychological Association opens by saying:

While most Americans think climate change is an important issue, they don't see it as an immediate threat, so getting people to "go green" requires policymakers, scientists and marketers to look at psychological barriers to change and what leads people to action, according to a task force of the American Psychological Association.

The chair of APA’s Task Force on the Interface Between Psychology and Global Climate Change, Janet Swim, PhD, of Pennsylvania State University, says “What is unique about current global climate change is the role of human behavior. We must look at the reasons people are not acting in order to understand how to get people to act.”

The task force last month released a report with the primary aim of engaging members of the psychology community (teachers, researchers, those in practice, and students) in the issue of climate change. The task force examined decades of psychological research and practice that have been specifically applied and tested in the arena of climate change, such as environmental and conservation psychology. The report also provides research recommendations and proposes policies for APA to assist psychologists’ engagement with this critical issue.

The task force outlined numerous psychological barriers that are to blame (such as uncertainty, mistrust, denial, lack of control, and habit). They also highlighted some ways that psychology is already working to limit these barriers (such as getting immediate feedback from various devices that show people how much energy and money they're conserving; combining strong financial incentives, convenience, quality assurance, and strong social marketing is another way to spur action). The task force identified other areas where psychology can help limit the effects of climate change, such as developing environmental regulations, economic incentives, better energy-efficient technology and communication methods.

Some Ocean Project Partners and friends may be interested in reviewing their information:

Executive Summary (PDF)
Full Report (PDF)
Policy Recommendations (PDF)

A final version of the report, including images and formatted as a booklet, will be available in the fall of 2009 on the APA website.

August 31, 2009

2010 Seas the Day wall calendar now available!

For 2010, The Ocean Project teamed up with Smithsonian to produce a special Seas the Day wall calendar. Once again, the calendar features the amazing underwater photography of Wolcott Henry, as well as monthly tips on ways to make a positive contribution to sustaining and safeguarding our ocean.

The 12"x12" images are stunning, and the Seas the Day website mirrors the calendar’s conservation theme (e.g. water conservation, eating healthy and sustainably) each month throughout 2010, providing a ocean tip of the day, more ways to learn and take action related to the monthly theme, as well as information on the amazing animal featured.

Partners of The Ocean Project receive a wholesale discount on Seas the Day calendar orders, which can be shipped immediately. For more info on wholesale, please contact Bill Mott, Director, The Ocean Project at 401.709.4071 or bmott (at) theoceanproject.org

Individuals can order the 2010 Seas the Day calendar from any of the following sources:

August 18, 2009

Time to Help Shape National Ocean Policy

President Obama established an Ocean Policy Task Force in June that is now seeking public comments. Anyone can comment and we encourage all to do so, even if you can only spend a few minutes submitting your thoughts online.

We encourage all our Partner ZAMs and others to take advantage of this opportunity to get more involved in important policy issues. As we blogged about last month, ZAMs can, and should, play more of an important role with policy issues.

Any comments are welcome. The Task Force asks that comments focus on any of the five key issues identified in the June 12 Presidential Memorandum including national ocean policy; a framework for policy coordination; implementation strategies; marine spatial planning; and emerging issues on ocean, coasts, and Great Lakes policy. But don't let these five identified issues scare you away from submitting comments. Much fits under "National Ocean Policy" that strives to protect and conserve the health of ocean, coastal, and Great Lakes ecosystems and resource. One of the greatest threats to the health of the ocean, and our own health as a society, is an unaware and uninvolved public.

Advocating for expanded funding for educational programs on ocean awareness and education should be a top concern of the Administration but it's up to us to make sure they take this subject seriously.

Take a few minutes soon and click here to submit your comments

August 13, 2009

Looking for Volunteers!

The Ocean Project is seeking volunteers around the world to help us achieve our mission.

Our network of Partners continues to grow, with nearly 1,000 Partners from 85 countries, and we manage our work with a relatively small team: one full time staff member and a couple of part-time staff and interns at this time...so we always appreciate volunteer help!

There are plenty of interesting opportunities - in our office as part of our formal internship program or helping remotely - and we also seek creative and entrepreneurial volunteers who may have their own ideas to help us advance our mission. Contact us today if you are interested in helping!

July 16, 2009

Largest-Ever Environmental Survey Released

Just in case you missed it last month...In advance of World Oceans Day The Ocean Project released the results from a sweeping new national survey. America, the Ocean, and Climate Change: New Research Insights for Conservation, Awareness, and Action surveyed over 22,000 Americans on a comprehensive range of ocean- and environment-related topics. It is the largest environmental survey ever conducted.

Funding for the survey was provided through an Environmental Literacy Grant from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), and through collaboration with the Monterey Bay Aquarium and the National Aquarium.

The report indicates that Americans’ knowledge about the ocean is limited, and concern about environmental issues affecting the ocean is a low priority compared with issues such as the economy and national security. While the poll also finds that climate change is the single environmental issue of greatest concern to the public, people are largely unaware of the connection between climate change, carbon pollution and ocean health.

Despite low levels of ocean literacy, when asked, Americans say they support protecting the health of the ocean and the environment. In a significant shift from views expressed in a 1999 survey also commissioned by The Ocean Project, Americans now believe that their individual actions can have a positive effect on protecting the environment and improving the health of the ocean. They are ready to act but are not sure what to do. Likewise, the public expects zoos, aquariums, and museums (ZAMs) to communicate solutions to environmental and ocean issues while advancing conservation.

The survey has important implications for how ZAMs can be more effective in achieving their goals. Significantly, the public looks to ZAMs to be leaders for conservation action. People are looking to ZAMs to suggest practical steps that will make a difference for the ocean and our environment. Clearly, the research shows that ZAMs have a tremendous opportunity to make a difference, and the time is now.

Additional tracking surveys have been commissioned by The Ocean Project to provide updates every six months. The first tracking survey results will be available in September. More information about the survey including the summary report is available at: www.TheOceanProject.org.

July 15, 2009

Oceans need policy action from ZAMs

Our world ocean suffers from a lack of international leadership, we in the United States still need a comprehensive national ocean policy, and according to our latest research and that of others, our society clearly lacks any sort of collective conservation consciousness.

Aggressive and strong conservation-minded policies are direly needed, and zoos, aquariums, museums (ZAMs), and our other Partners can help. President Obama's appointments of key leaders in his Administration who understand the gravity of climate change, including scientists like Dr. Jane Lubchenco who heads NOAA, the nation’s main agency focused on the ocean, is a very welcome change of pace.

Another promising development occurred when President Obama declared June as "National Oceans Month." He put some teeth into the proclamation by establishing an interagency Ocean Policy Task Force, which will be comprised of senior level officials who will draft several recommendations, as well as develop a much needed "comprehensive, integrated, ecosystem-based" framework for sustainably regarding US oceans, coasts and the Great Lakes. This will help achieve the vision of the two national ocean commissions that released their reports approximately five years ago.

Yet another positive development on the policy front includes the release – with much input from scientists essentially gagged during the Bush administration - of the most authoritative federal study yet on climate change, "Global Climate Change Impacts in the United States." This report documents how warming waters are killing coral reefs, increased acidity is dissolving the basic building blocks of life in the ocean, and sea level rise combined with intense storms is beginning to batter sensitive coastal ecosystems that are nurseries or homes to most species of fish, as well as most humans.

While our recent national market research found that Americans continue to have low levels of ocean literacy and revealed little indication of public knowledge of policy-based solutions to ocean threats, when asked, Americans say they support protecting the health of the ocean and the environment. ZAMs can tap into Americans' 'can do' attitude by providing them with a variety of solutions, from personal action to policy advocacy, to the pressing issues of climate change and ocean conservation. ZAMs can also lead by example, and play a significant role by targeting communications to key audiences who are most likely to take or influence action.

One example is to increase individual and collective lobbying and advocacy efforts by ZAMs with policymakers. For instance, ZAM board members are influential leaders in your community; they want to help in various ways and, if engaged, can help reach congressional and other policy leaders effectively.

ZAMs can also connect with youth to help in many ways including online mobilization for action. The research confirms, too, that youth also exert significant influence on their parents who believe their tween and teen children are better informed. The influence on parents may not be anything too new but the research does seems to show that parents are willing to follow their childrens' advice on matters concerning the environment and conservation.

July 14, 2009

World Oceans Day 2009 recap

Congratulations to all who participated in World Oceans Day 2009, the biggest celebration ever of our world's ocean! This year over 230 organizations and institutions organized events worldwide, with more than 70 in the US alone, including the public aquariums and national NGOs. From a Presidential proclamation and lighting of the Empire State building in blue, to thousands of volunteers participating in beach clean-ups, many people celebrated the ocean and participated in ocean stewardship.

The concept of a "World Ocean Day" was first proposed in 1992. What started as an idea has now grown into an officially designated day, recognized by the United Nations and celebrated by countless individuals all around the world. This day, June 8th, and its message of ocean education and conservation will continue to grow in popularity as word spreads on the importance of our oceans to all of us, no matter where we live.

As you may know, The Ocean Project launched a Wear Blue and Tell Two campaign this year. We urged our Partner ZAMs and other friends in the wider ocean conservation community to start to associate the color blue with World Oceans Day each year. The idea linking with the "tell two" is to multiply our reach by telling people two interesting facts about the ocean and easy ways one can take personal action to help.

The Ocean Project would like to thank everybody who participated in World Oceans Day 2009 and we hope you will continue your commitment to celebrating World Oceans Day in the future — it is not too early to start planning for June 8, 2010. Let us know your ideas!

Come learn and play in Portland!

Don't forget to register for the annual conference of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA). This year, the Oregon Zoo is hosting in Portland, Oregon, nicely situated between the mountains and the coast.

This year's conference for zoo and aquarium professionals promises some great programming and networking.

One panel that we are helping to organize will feature our main research consultant who will share the latest findings from the most extensive, ongoing public attitude and awareness survey about environmental topics ever conducted in the United States. We will have fresh data to present from the first of at least four semi-annual tracking surveys. This research, commissioned by The Ocean Project, has important implications for how aquariums and zoos can have greater impact and be more effective in communicating with the public about topics ranging from ocean conservation to climate change. Senior staff members of three major U.S. aquariums will share examples of how these results have influenced or supported the conservation work of their institutions.

The Ocean Project will also host a professionally-facilitated session for invited Partners to discuss the research findings, how they are being interpreted, successes in integrating the findings and any barriers in doing so, and more.

Our proposed panel on youth as drivers of environmental engagement was unfortunately not fully accepted this year although we will have one of the panelists from this session integrated into another session, and we will aim to bring this important information to AZA members at upcoming conferences.

In addition, we will be sharing a poster on the watershed-to-ocean initiative that we are developing for Partners to help do more in your local watersheds. Our prototypes demonstrate concepts our Partners will be able to use anywhere on the planet, allowing your visitors to visualize how they connect through their watershed to the ocean, learn about ecosystems and ecosystem-related issues in the community, get involved, and develop a better sense of their "eco-address."

By the way, Portland is an amazingly walkable, bikeable, and public transportable city with lots of great things to do and places eat, shop and play during the conference. The Zoo 'host committee' has developed a fun online resource, including how conference goers can be green. Check it out to make the most of your time there!

June 23, 2009

The Reef Tank blog

The Reef Tank recently blogged about World Oceans Day, The Ocean Project, and director Bill Mott. It's a brief read and may be of interest to some.

Here is the intro paragraph:

Better late then never!
World Oceans Day may have come and gone but The Ocean Project, one of the group behind many of the amazing ocean events of June 8th, works year round insuring ocean conservation and protection, education and action. It has grown from a handful of founding North American aquariums and organizations to the world's largest network to advance ocean education and research. When you think of World Oceans Day--you surely think of The Ocean Project. At least, you should.
Enter The Ocean Project's Director Bill Mott, who has been working with various non-profit organizations for over two decades, creating networks and creative coalitions.
"I enjoy working with others around the country, and around the world, working with them to make our individual and collective efforts much more effective for positive change," he says.
And it shows!
You can read the rest of the blog post here.

The Reef Tank blog provides an outlet for marine hobbyists and reef enthusiasts to discuss areas like saltwater tanks, marine biology, marine conservation, climate change, ocean acidification, and more. They have 25,000 members and 250,000 visitors to the site each month. You may like to check it out!

June 15, 2009

President Obama sets up Ocean Policy Task Force

Declaring June as "National Oceans Month", President Obama put some teeth into this proclamation by establishing an Ocean Policy Task Force. It will be comprised of senior level officials and will draft several recommendations, as well as develop a "comprehensive, integrated, ecosystem-based" framework for sustainably regarding US oceans, coasts and the Great Lakes.

June 12, 2009

Did you know that the average American adult receives 41 pounds of junk mail per year?
Creating and shipping junk mail produces more greenhouse gas emissions than 9 million cars, and the adverse effects of these gases – for example, ocean acidification – are detrimental to the health of our ocean. The Ocean Project’s recent public opinion survey reveals that the general public has difficulty seeing the connection between C02 emissions, climate change, and the health of our ocean. As such, it is imperative that zoos, aquariums, and museums do more to direct their audiences to ways to help them realize the connection between their carbon footprint and ocean health.
One such organization is 41pounds.org, who partners with The Ocean Project to stop junk mail and unwanted catalogs. For every household that signs up, 41pounds.org will contact 20 to 35 direct mail companies to remove that household from marketing (junk mail) databases. The 41pounds.org service will eliminate between 80 and 95% of a household's junk mail and specified catalogs, and lasts for 5 years. The cost to each participant is just $41.
When you sign up, be sure to designate The Ocean Project as the Supported Organization so that 41pounds.org will donate $15 of your subscription fee to The Ocean Project. These contributions can add up and help pay our interns!

June 2, 2009

New research findings now available: America, the Ocean, and Climate Change

The Ocean Project has just released our latest survey results - America, the Ocean, and Climate Change: New Insights for Conservation, Awareness, and Action. it's the largest ever on any environmental issue, with 22,000 adult respondents in the United States. This research expanded considerably on The Ocean Project's research from 1999.

There are many important findings and implications for zoos, aquariums, and museums (ZAMs), as well as other conservation-oriented organizations and agencies. One key finding is that the public is looking to ZAMs to tell them not only about ocean and environmental issues, but how they can help. There are many other implications included in the report, and we hope you will find them useful in your work. Please let us know what you think of this research and what types of things you think we should track in future surveys (we are conducting ongoing tracking surveys every six months). We will also continue to analyze the mountain of data and put forth related resources and tools for you on our website in the coming weeks and months.

To accomodate this unprecedented research, we have developed a new page on our website with the following reports and resources related to the research:
  • Executive Summary
  • Key Findings
  • Presentation of the Findings
  • Summary of Data, which includes a 14-page overview including more extensive review of key findings and methodology, as well as 211-page summary of the data with (1) the survey question/proposition; (2) composite response; and (3) simple bar graph segmenting the response by different geographic region. More resources and tools will be added to this page in the near future.

May 21, 2009

"Wear Blue and Tell Two" for World Oceans Day

With the newly official World Oceans Day coming up June 8th, The Ocean Project encourages Partners to launch a "Wear Blue and Tell Two" campaign to celebrate. Participation is easy: wear blue in honor of the ocean, and tell people two things they likely don't know about the ocean and ways they can take action.

In honor of the ocean on this special day, we are asking individuals everywhere - especially those working at ZAMs, as well as those at NGOs, agencies, universities, schools, and businesses - to help spread the blue.

The Ocean Project's recent public opinion research - to be released publicly on June 3 - indicates that the public is looking to zoos, aquariums, and museums (ZAMs) to learn more about ocean issues and how they can help; through this campaign, we hope to help our Partners find new ways to meet this need.

Learn more here!

May 7, 2009

Shark Trust Wines partners with The Ocean Project for World Oceans Day

Between now and World Oceans Day, June 8, Shark Trust Wines has generously offered to donate 30% of your total purchase to The Ocean Project. If you are planning an event - for business, a World Ocean Day celebration, or other large function - and need a few cases of wine, or if you'd just like to enjoy some fine wines and help protect and conserve our world's ocean at the same time, please make an ocean planet-protecting purchase today!

Shark Trust Wines goal is to bring great wine from around the globe to your table while actively spreading the message about the need for shark and ocean conservation and making it easy for people to make a difference through the donation of 10% of their profits. During the next few weeks, they are donating 30% of sales to The Ocean Project as a way to celebrate the recent official designation of World Oceans Day by the United Nations.

It's easy to place your order and help our ocean:
  1. Click to the website for Shark Trust Wines
  2. Take about 50 seconds to register
  3. Make your selections among their several excellent wines
  4. Type in the coupon code "TOP" so that we will receive a donation
  5. Submit your order and wait for the shipment to arrive and enjoy the wine!
And thank you from The Ocean Project!

May 6, 2009

World Oceans Day Artwork Contest for Kids

In anticipation of the upcoming World Oceans Day on June 8, we are collaborating with Surf Sweets, a natural and organic candy brand, on a World Oceans Day Artwork Contest for Kids. Kids ages 5-13 can enter their drawings that best illustrate “Why I Love the Ocean.”

This contest will be a valuable and fun way for kids to increase their personal connection with the ocean, to increase awareness of World Oceans Day among parents and families, and to celebrate this annual event.

Consumer entry forms and bookmarks include Action Tips for protection of our world’s ocean, and kids will have the opportunity to win framing of their artwork, Surf Sweets organic and natural candies, and tickets to their local zoo, aquarium, museum (ZAM), among other prizes.

For Ocean Project Partners, Surf Sweets is offering 5% off for orders shipped prior to World Oceans Day, and an additional 5% will be donated back to The Ocean Project.

For more information about the contest or product orders, contact Surf Sweets at info@surfsweets.com or visit the Surf Sweets website.

For more information about how you can use World Oceans Day as an opportunity for additional educational outreach to families, contact us here at The Ocean Project.

May 1, 2009

Funding Opportunity for Aquariums

Any AZA-accredited aquarium that doesn't yet know about the newest grant program from NOAA should read on and act quickly as the deadline for applications is coming up very quickly, immediately following the first 'official' World Oceans Day.

Also, if you are applying please know that The Ocean Project is interested in helping advance ocean conservation in partnership with you by expanding your collaborative reach through our growing network of 850 aquariums, zoos, science museums, conservation organizations and agencies. Please contact us if you will be submitting a proposal and interested in working with us in some capacity.

Title: NOAA's Ocean Education Grants for AZA Aquariums

The NOAA Office of Education (OEd) has issued a request for applications to support education projects designed to engage the public in activities that increase ocean and/or climate literacy and the adoption of a stewardship ethic. Funded projects will be between one and five years in duration and will support ocean education projects led by eligible applicants. Eligible applicants are only 501(c)(3) non-profit organizations that are either (1) aquariums accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) or (2) have a legally sanctioned affiliation with an AZA-accredited aquarium. Organizations that do not meet these eligibility criteria are allowed to be partners on projects with the eligible applicant as the lead institution.

It is anticipated that recommendations for funding under this announcement will be made by August 30, 2009 and that projects funded under this announcement will have a start date no earlier than October 1, 2009. The deadline for applications is 5:00 PM EST on June 9, 2009.

Visit http://www.oesd.noaa.gov/funding_opps.html for the full announcement and additional information.

This funding opportunity's Funding Opportunity Number for www.grants.gov is

April 22, 2009

Happy Blue Earth Day!

Today much of the world celebrates our planet Earth. As Arthur C. Clarke noted, "How inappropriate to call this planet Earth when it is quite clearly Ocean."

Since we share an interconnected planet, though, everything that each of us does for Earth Day also benefits our world's ocean. Overconsumption, improper development, polluted runoff from farms, yards, streets and parking lots, air pollution, and climate change...these are issues that harm people, as well as our world's ocean, which lies downstream and downwind from all of us.

Remember to Seas the Day this Earth Day! And make sure to plan an event to celebrate the inaugural World Oceans Day on June 8th.

Thanks to Wolcott Henry for this beautiful image of Bunaken National Marine Park, formally established in 1991 and among the first of Indonesia's growing system of marine parks. Visit his website for additional inspirational images.

April 15, 2009

UN declares June 8th as World Oceans Day

Exciting news! The United Nations has declared June 8th as World Oceans Day!

Congratulations to all! Making this happen was a truly worldwide effort and something we can all take credit for in making this possible.

Link here for the official U.N. Resolution that authorizes June 8th as World Oceans Day beginning in 2009.

By the way, the UN chose the plural “oceans” rather than the singular “ocean” – we have of course been promoting the idea for "World Ocean Day" because we all share one planet with one ocean that connects us all, but can't quibble too much at this point. At least it is finally official!

It's nice to have something to celebrate and now we need to capitalize on this fresh momentum!

April 10, 2009

Happy Passover and Easter

Just a reminder of why some of us do what we do (at the zoo)!

March 18, 2009

Further evidence of the need to more effectively communicate for conservation

Clearly those of us working to protect and conserve our world’s ocean and climate need to do a much better job of educating and communicating with visitors to our facilities and the public, especially during these hard economic times. The data from recent polling – including our recent comprehensive survey which is still being analyzed– shows that we continue to face some large challenges in effectively communicating for conservation.

Anyway, as far as the latest polling on the issue of climate change, according to Gallup’s annual March survey on the environment, a majority of Americans largely believes global warming is real and that the seriousness of the issue is either correctly portrayed in the news or underestimated, but a record-high 41% now say it is exaggerated by the media. While still only a snapshot in time, this represents the highest level of public skepticism about mainstream reporting on global warming since Gallup's trend on this measure began in 1997. Furthermore, the poll also shows that Americans are “a bit less concerned about the seriousness of global warming” with only 34% of Americans saying they worry "a great deal" about the problem.

Given the fact that many scientists believe climate change to be a more serious threat than some in the media report, and there continues to be increasingly serious news such as recent reports from experts at the International Scientific Congress on Climate Change, it is somewhat surprising and discouraging to learn that more Americans feel as though global warming is actually exaggerated. Of course, some believe this to be a zero sum game; with the economy and jobs and home mortgages increasingly taking up people's "concern time" then other issues may not seem as important. Moreover, public opinion on climate change, or any issue, can be wrong. But for those of us trying to communicate with the public it helps to know people's perceptions on issues, how they get their information, and why people think, act, or behave as they do.

Certainly, ZAMs (zoos, aquariums, and museums) and others working to create a more sustainable society and a healthier ocean planet need not feel an obligation to provide arguments of two hypothetical sides on a serious issue such as climate change where the scientific evidence is overwhelming. We do, however, have an obligation with such an overwhelmingly important issue to take action in as effective a means as possible to make people aware of the issues, and do so in an empowering way so that people can help with the solutions to climate change, and creating a healthy ocean. Together, as a network of organizations, and many concerned individuals, we can help achieve the societal transformation that we need to ensure that our ocean and our climate are as healthy as possible for future generations.

Getting back to the Gallup survey, all of the past year's uptick in cynicism about the seriousness of global warming coverage occurred among Americans 30 and older. The views of 18- to 29-year-olds, the age group generally most concerned about global warming and most likely to say the problem is underestimated, didn't change. Based on our preliminary analysis of our own survey data, the teens and 'tweens may be even more concerned.

The 2009 Gallup Environment survey also measured public concern about eight specific environmental issues. Not only does global warming rank last on the basis of the total percentage concerned either a great deal or a fair amount, but it is the only issue for which public concern dropped significantly in the past year. (Notably, the ocean was not even considered among the top eight specific issues to poll on, despite the many issues threatening its health and critical connections to humans; we will push to change this oversight with Gallup.) According to Gallup’s own analysis, public concern about the environment often drops at times when other issues such as a major economic downturn absorb people’s attention, but the fact that concern about global warming dropped relative to the eight other measures suggests that “something unique may be happening with this issue.”

While Americans by far believe that they will see the effects of global warming in their lifetimes, when asked, “Do you think that global warming will pose a serious threat to you or your way of life in your lifetime?” only 38% of Americans answered yes. A full 60% of Americans do not believe that global warming will pose a serious threat to themselves or their way of life.

There's a real challenge. Let’s get back to work at becoming more effective communicators for conservation!

"one ocean one climate one future"

If you're not already planning an event, now is the time to rally your colleagues and plan an exciting event on or around World Ocean Day, June 8th, at your facility or organization.

The Ocean Project, working with the World Ocean Network, helps to coordinate events and activities with aquariums, zoos, museums, conservation organizations, universities, schools, businesses around the world. Already, many exciting events have been planned,

The theme for WOD 09 - "one ocean, one climate, one future" - will help bring local and global attention to the impact climate change is having on the ocean, what that impact will mean for ocean and human life. Our polling work and that of others shows that the public is not making the connections between climate change and ocean health. This lack of public awareness is a critical concern as we individually and collectively strive to educate with visitors and the public about how to make important changes to reduce our CO2 emissions, halt climate change, and preserve our children's ocean legacy.

World Ocean Day provides an opportunity to join with people in all countries to celebrate our world’s ocean, which connects us all. Together, we can make a real difference! Visit the World Ocean Day website to add your event to the growing list of participating organizations, get ideas for celebration activities, access the tools in the updated media and outreach Kit, and more! Click here for Día Mundial del Océano website en Español.

February 23, 2009

The problems with America's favorite seafood

Orion Magazine always has thoughtful articles on the connection between the environment and social and political issues. This month's issue features a story on the problem with shrimp. "All You Can Eat" gives you a taste of shrimping, shrimp farming, and why shrimp - in nearly all cases - is not a sustainable choice for the health of the ocean nor for human society. If nothing else, read the last page of the article, especially the last few paragraphs, for a glimpse of how bad it is and how much is at stake in human and ecosystem terms.

Much of the world's shrimp fishing industry is extremely wasteful, with an average of more than five pounds of bycatch killed and discarded "less valuable" sea creatures – for every pound of shrimp brought to port. And shrimp farming typically relies on unsustainable industrial practices with significant ecosystem and human costs.

As the article states, unless you live within about 100 miles of the coast, the shrimp in scampi, cocktails, or the all-you-can-eat platters are coming from overseas industrial shrimp farms. There are also huge carbon costs associated with transporting seafood around the world. If you need a "shrimp fix," try to make it a special treat, choose responsibly, and savor every sweet shrimp morsel!

Whether you eat seafood or not, find more info on how you can consume consciously and help our ocean in the process.

February 13, 2009

Her Deepness Wins the 2009 TED Prize

Sylvia Earle, one of the most knowledgeable and passionate advocates for the ocean, has received a prestigious TED Prize.

While TED Prize winners receive $100,000, the prize offers much more to help people realize their dreams. Winners are granted “One Wish to Change the World” and the TED network provides invaluable talent and resources in collaborative pursuit of that wish. Previous TED Prize winners include E.O. Wilson, former President Bill Clinton, and Bono.

Sylvia Earle's wish:
“I wish you would use all means at your disposal — films! expeditions! the web! more! — to ignite public support for a global network of marine protected areas, hope spots large enough to save and restore the ocean, the blue heart of the planet.”
Efforts to conserve the ocean have received a nice boost as a result of Sylvia Earle winning this prize. Let's hope the TED network rallies protect our shared world ocean!

Watch/listen to Sylvia Earle's TED Prize talk.

February 2, 2009

Take the plunge with Google Ocean

Google Earth now encompasses the 71% of the planet’s surface that is ocean. With the new ocean layer, you can take the plunge all over our planet, view content from BBC and National Geographic, and explore 3D shipwrecks like the Titanic. Also, with the new Google Earth 5.0 (beta) you can see how your community has changed over time, find out about coastal erosion, and much more.

Although only about 10% of the sea floor has been mapped at a useful scale, this new tool will help with science, policy reform, education, and advocacy. With the public able to have this interactive experience with the ocean as well as, for instance, see evidence of global climate change, people's perceptions may well change. As our current public opinion research is showing, and as our survey work a decade ago also demonstrated, the ocean needs all the help it can get as far as public awareness, education, and action.

Google Ocean has the potential for millions of people to get inspired, learn more about the ocean, and, we hope, help motivate them to take action to conserve the ocean and its great diversity of life. Of course, there is no substitute for getting out from behind the computer and literally immersing oneself in the world’s wonderful ocean as often as you can. However you like to visit our ocean planet, please remember to Seas the Day!

For more on related issues, Andy Revkin has a follow-up Dot Earth post with some thoughtful input from social scientists regarding.

January 29, 2009

Jobs and the economy top priorities while environmental concerns slide

As one might have guessed, jobs and the economy are top of mind among Americans, according to the latest survey by Pew Research Center, and the environment and global climate change are lesser priorities at this point in time. Our Ocean Project survey findings are quite similar. In the Pew survey, climate concerns came in last among the 20 issues polled on, with only 30% of Americans saying that global warming is “a top priority,” compared with 35% in 2008. Over the past year protecting the environment fell the most precipitously of the 20 issues – just 41% rate this as a top priority today, down from 56% a year ago. Energy concerns ranked sixth in the poll — just behind education and social security — with 60% of voters endorsing it as a top priority. Get the full findings from Pew and get the New York Times' Andy Revkin's take on it.

Of course, for anyone concerned about the health of our world's ocean, we have our work cut out for us to make the ocean a priority as it's not on most people's radar screen. Linking ocean health with climate health - and making it relevant to people's lives - will be a major priority moving forward.

By the way, the World Ocean Day theme for 2009 is "one climate, one ocean, one future." Check it out - and get involved - at the WOD website.

January 19, 2009

Museums Can Help Invent a Better Future and Save the World

National Public Radio recently concluded a series entitled, "Museums In The 21st Century," exploring the history of the nation's museums and looking ahead to the future.

One of the more thought-provoking stories in this series, "Interactive Games Make Museums A Place To Play," highlighted the Center for the Future of Museums’ inaugural lecture by Dr. Jane McGonigal, a researcher and games designer with the Institute for the Future, who has been called the "guru of alternate reality games." She believes the ideas people imagine today are the keys to the planet's future — and that games have a way of pushing people to be creative problem solvers. McGonigal says museum-organized games can help invent the future and change the world, based on four elements that she claims we all need to make us happy:
1) Satisfying work to do;
2) The experience of being good at something;
3) Time spent with people we like; and
4) The chance to be a part of something bigger.
Indeed, Dr. McGonigal challenges the museum community:
“The fate of humanity hangs in the balance over whether we're going to get crowds to do anything useful or not.”

Listen to the 8-minute NPR story linked above and/or save the date: Wednesday, Jan. 28, 2009, 1 p.m. EST when the Center for the Future of Museums will webcast a lecture by Dr. McGonigal on “Gaming the Future of Museums.” Participants are encouraged to put together group viewings, download the associated discussion guide and participate in online chats and activities associated with this free webcast. You can register (for free) here.

Of related interest, the Center for the Future of Museums recently released a new report: Museums & Society 2034: Trends and Potential Futures. Learn more and download a PDF of the paper here.

January 5, 2009

President Bush Creates new National Marine Monuments

President Bush created three new marine national monuments in the Pacific Ocean today, spanning 195,280 square miles. The decision to make the designations under the Antiquities Act, coming just two weeks before Bush leaves office, means that he will have protected more square miles of ocean than any person in history. In 2006 Bush created the Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands, an area of 138,000 square miles. Part of the new designation includes the deepest part of our planet: the nearly seven-mile-deep Mariana Trench (see image above courtesy of NOAA).

This plan had been criticized by Vice President Cheney and others as reported last month in the Washington Post.

Check out some of the underwater images from this amazing place.
Read more from the Christian Science Monitor and the Washington Post.

In addition, on January 13, NOAA established eight marine protected areas in south Atlantic waters to protect spawning grounds and nursery areas for deep-water fish such as snappers and groupers. Read more at NOAA's site.