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 22, 2010

SEASons Greetings from The Ocean Project!

It has been an eventful year for the health of our ocean planet. Devastating events such as the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico have reminded us of the vulnerability of our ocean, and our duty to take action and protect it. 
At The Ocean Project we continued to provide our Partners with new and meaningful conservation communication insights to help them become more efficient and effective educators and communicators for conservation action. In 2011, we are launching a new three year initiative, which will significantly expand our market research capabilities and help our Partners to fully integrate and utilize these valuable resources and strategic communications tools. 

Through an expansion of our market research initiative -- and other activities, such as providing ways to take tangible action focused on a new conservation theme each month -- we plan to engage and mobilize people for conservation action around the United States and in the 75 other countries where are Partners are based. Collectively, we hope to develop more of a conservation consciousness among all members of society.

Thank you for your interest, and your help working for the ocean and the health of our planet! Please consider making a year end ocean donation to The Ocean Project. With our small team, each contribution goes far for positive change! Thank you and have a wonderful holiday season!

December 10, 2010

The perfect gift for you and the ocean—a junk-free mailbox.

Did you know? In the U.S. alone, the production of junk mail consumes 28 billion gallons of water and takes enough energy to power 2.8 million cars!

The Ocean Project is partnering with 41pounds.org, a nonprofit service which stops postal junk mail. With this service, you can help cut down on junk mail waste while treating your loved ones to five full years of a clutter free mailbox!

For $41, the folks at 41pounds.org do all the leg-work to reduce your junk mail by 80-95% for five years. This cost INCLUDES a $15 donation to one of their partner non-profit organizations you choose; such as The Ocean Project!

With 41pounds.org, you reduce household clutter, protect healthy forests and reduce global warming:

  • Paper manufacturing in the US and Canada releases well over 100 million kg of toxic pollution into the air and water each year.
  • More than 100 million trees are destroyed each year to produce junk mail.
  • The world’s temperate forests absorb 2 billion tons of carbon annually to help keep the planet cool and healthy.
  • Junk mail produces more greenhouse gas emissions than 9 million cars.

Save some stress, save the forests, and save the ocean by patronizing 41pounds.org with The Ocean Project as your donation of choice! Click here now to buy a gift certificate.

November 23, 2010

Taking action and changing minds, and vice versa

As zoos, aquariums, and museums increasingly use market research from The Ocean Project and other sources to become more strategic and effective communicators and educators for conservation action with their audiences, it might prove helpful to see how the environmental movement is showing signs of shifting course in their messaging.

Although there are always exceptions, the traditional "end-is-nigh" messaging that many environmentally-minded individuals and organizations have used has been largely ineffective in galvanizing society to action; what this type of messaging has done to a large extent is succeed in stereotyping environmental activists as preachy and judgmental. Increasingly, however, environmentalists are more broadly embracing a basic tenet of successful communication: framing. Shifting away from indiscriminate dissemination of information, framing strategically communicates an issue by putting it into a context which is familiar and valid to the audience (for more information on framing, see the Framing Public Issues Toolkit by the Frameworks Institute).

How can this best be done?

Change the minds and actions will follow?
Common Cause, a report recently released by WWF-UK, proposes that cultural values provide motivation for action, and argues that a shift from extrinsic to intrinsic motivation is needed in Western culture to foster a sustainable society. Specifically, it advances that communication campaigns can support this change by publically challenging common self-centered and consumerist sources of motivation.

Take action and the minds will follow? Chris Rose, operator of campaignstrategy.org, thinks so. In his response to the report, Common Cause, Rose argues that rather than trying to change what people value, communicators should activate frames that their audience already cares about. For example, conservatives may not support renewable energy to fight global warming, but might be willing to support it to reduce reliance on foreign oil. Rose goes on to illustrate his point with real world examples where environmental action is taken for non-conservation-related reasons, but nevertheless results in a more environmentally conscious populous.

Perhaps these two are not opposed. Rose's point that problems must be accepted as a "social fact" before they can be solved (e.g. equality and civil rights, or health risks and smoking) is a corollary of Common Cause's claim that extrinsically motivated changes do not have cultural staying power. Both strategies depend on one another to foster a sustainable society for the future. History has shown that decisive action (e.g. activism during the civil rights movement) can vitalize a previously apathetic public; likewise, it has also shown that long-term value based campaigning -- such as changing smoking's public image from "cool" to "outcast" -- can be powerful.

Using both strategies in tandem seems to be the wisest move for a sustainable future.

November 19, 2010

Time to Take Action on Climate Change Communication

In today's issue of Science, a leading a group of respected climate scientists, social scientists, economists, and others put forth a call for the science and funding communities to support a new initiative that will bring the public up to speed quickly on climate change. Concurrently, they launched ClimateEngage.org to have people from all walks of life endorse the call to action. Please consider signing on www.ClimateEngage.org.

November 15, 2010

NOAA Announces Environmental Literacy Grants for Science Education

NOAA's Office of Education announced today that it has awarded grants totaling more than $8 million to seventeen institutions - including several TOP Partners - across the country to engage the public in science education activities that improve understanding and stewardship of the local and global environment. These seventeen grants will fund thirteen projects:

October 6, 2010

A Decade of Discovery in the World's Ocean!

Yoshihiro Fujiwara/JAMSTEC
A hydrothermal vent snail, a newly discovered species, is now part of a plethora of sea creatures cataloged in the Census of Marine Life

While World Oceans Day 2010 focused on "Oceans of Life", the theme of the great diversity of life continues throughout this International Year of Biodiversity, as designated by the United Nations. The Census of Marine Life recently made a major contribution when it culminated its decade-long international effort to assess the diversity, distribution, and abundance of ocean life.

The Census validated that there are 201,206 identified species in the ocean and likely more than one million different types of creatures living in the seas today. This first baseline picture of ocean life—past, present, and future—will be used to forecast, measure, and understand changes in the global marine environment, as well as to inform the management and conservation of the marine environment.

The massive undertaking, which was comprised of 2,700 scientists, more than 80 nations, and 540 expeditions, shed light not only on how many sea creatures exist, but also on how much diversity our ocean is truly composed of. From well known ocean creatures like the jellyfish to newly discovered creatures like the hydrothermal vent snail, the Census enabled scientists -- and now the public -- to further understand the connections between aquatic life, the ocean, and us!

Read the full Census press release or visit the Census of Marine Life website to access its image and video gallery, reports, and much more.

September 22, 2010

Expanding our Research Initiative to help our Partners

The Ocean Project's market research initiative is already the largest such undertaking ever on behalf of the environment, and it's about to grow. Over the last three years with major support from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and its Environmental Literacy Grants program, we have been able to conduct cutting edge research and get the findings and implications to our Partner zoos, aquariums, museums, and others in the greater conservation community. The market research shows low levels of environmental literacy overall but significant opportunities for advancing ocean and climate conservation. 

Thanks to major funding from NOAA, we will be expanding this research initiative over the next three years.

We have four major goals:
1. Measure changes in awareness and action on ocean, climate, and related environmental issues by the American public, applying innovative, cutting edge market research to three annual surveys and nine quarterly tracking survey updates.

2. Integrate the research findings, in-depth analysis, and actionable recommendations to key staff directly into programs at hundreds of partner sites, while simultaneously providing the results to the greater conservation community.

3. Maximize the application of the research through professional development and other capacity building opportunities, focusing on 25 of the most influential informal education centers across the country.

4. Support and shape outreach efforts that connect climate change, the ocean, and individual action, especially as related to reaching youth, to help build the core of a new movement of social responsibility for ocean and climate conservation.
We update our Website weekly and are overhauling it to make it more current and easier to use. Please visit often to stay informed of the many opportunities available to you to help advance conservation action, including the latest market research updates as they arrive!

September 13, 2010

2010 Tracking Survey Available and 2 New Reports

Here are a few things to be aware and some quick updates:
  • We've re-organized our Market Research page to make it easier to use.
  • Latest Tracking Survey available which shows the change in opinion between April - August 2010. This survey is especially interesting because it shows the change in US opinions before, during, and after the BP disaster in the Gulf of Mexico.
  • We've also posted two short FAQ style reports on specific aspects of the market research you may find helpful in your work. These reports focus on Youth and Climate Change.
We will also be releasing a new edition of our Blue Planet News to Use newsletter soon, so keep an eye out! Thanks for reading, and be sure to check back soon for more information on our plans for the new grant.

August 27, 2010

New Web page on Reaching Kids

The Ocean Project has developed new Web pages on Reaching Kids for our Partners. The new pages provide tips and resources for educators working with young children. Please use it to learn the highlights from recent research in place-based education, a body of research which suggests that when children spend time engaged in nature and outdoor activities, they are more likely to be long-term stewards for our planet.

It is important that serious topics such as climate change and deforestation not be introduced too early, so as to not overwhelm kids before they have a chance to appreciate their natural surroundings.

Instead, children benefit from immersion in their local environment: learning about plants and animals in their backyard, exploring a nearby park, and visiting a zoo, aquarium, or museum can lead to positive associations with nature.

Empathy, followed by exploration, should be the main objectives in establishing a connection between children and their environment. For tips to involve children in age-appropriate outdoor activities and to learn about ZAMs with effective children programs, check out our new pages!

August 20, 2010

Contribute to Planning the Next Decade for the Centers for Ocean Sciences Education Excellence (COSEE)

The National Science Foundation's  COSEE will be holding a meeting in Washington, D.C. on November 3-4, 2010.  The meeting announcement (below) and link to the application can be found at (COSEE Community Meeting Announcement).

NSF encourages a broad range of participants, especially individuals who are not currently involved in the National COSEE Network. Meeting expenses (travel, lodging and meals) for participants not affiliated with the National COSEE Network will be covered.  Consider applying and help disseminate this information to others within your professional networks.

Community Meeting Overview: COSEE is an NSF-funded national network of Centers with the broad objective of connecting the ocean sciences research and education communities to develop innovative and catalytic activities in ocean sciences education and outreach.  In August/September 2011, the COSEE program will undergo a Decadal Review by NSF.  The review will assess past accomplishments of the Network, the role that COSEE fills in the overall landscape of ocean science education, and the emerging opportunities on which COSEE can capitalize if NSF funding is continued.  With an eye toward the future, COSEE is engaging in a range of activities aimed at eliciting community input into a strategic vision for the future of COSEE or a follow-on program.  Among these activities is hosting a COSEE Community Meeting in which members of the science and education communities come together to contribute their perspectives and ideas on how the Network might evolve over the next decade. A variety of disciplinary expertise is sought, including members of the learning science and ocean science research  communities, cyberlearning/cyberinfrastructure experts, ocean science educators, and education/outreach specialists at major NSF-funded facilities.  The outcome of the meeting will be a strategic vision document based on the recommendations formulated during the meeting.

The Community Meeting application deadline is September 10th, 2010.  Please feel free to contact Cheryl Peach, Chair, COSEE Community Meeting Steering Committee (cpeach@ucsd.edu) if you have any questions.

Water for Life!

Question: What's special about 70%?
Answer: 70% of Earth is covered with water and water comprises 70% of your body 

Without water neither we nor the planet’s vibrant ecosystems could survive. And yet approximately 1 billion people worldwide lack clean drinking water. This summer, an historic vote in the United Nations General Assembly brought attention to this striking global problem. The new declaration raises hopes for the future of water conservation on our “blue planet.”

Among the human rights declared by the UN in 1948 are food, health, and education. But until July 28, 2010 access to clean water and sanitation were not included in this list. The new declaration names access to safe and clean water and sanitation as a human right and lays out goals for righting this wrong for so many millions of our fellow world citizens who lack clean drinking water.

The Ocean Project invites you to celebrate this historic event with us and spread the word about the need to manage our water resources responsibly—from oceans and waterways on a global scale to the water cycle happening in your backyard! Learn more about freshwater issues on the ocean issues Web page.

With water demand expected to exceed supply by 40% in 20 years, the UN declaration lays out practical steps to reduce this wide gap. It is also a clear moral affirmation that water should be seen as a public trust rather than a commodity.

August is Water Conservation month on The Ocean Project’s personal action website. So next time you enjoy a steamy shower or turn on your lawn sprinkler this summer, be thankful for this necessary human right and think of the less fortunate on our planet. Together, by each doing our parts, we can help conserve valuable water resources and provide for a brighter future for all people and creatures on our planet.

July 27, 2010

Youth in Action

The Ocean Project’s research has shown that youth (ages 12-17) are a key audience to target with the potential to have a huge impact on improving our ocean planet. Not only is this age group more concerned about environmental issues, they are also more willing to take action to help the environment than adults. Furthermore, youth exert a huge amount of influence within their households. Parents often view their children as more informed about current environmental issues than themselves. Youth already report more involvement with ocean conservation activities than any other age group, but their potential for taking action is far from being fully realized. Check our new youth page for more information and resources on reaching 12-17 year olds.

July 15, 2010

American Opinion on Climate Change Warms Up

Researchers at Yale University and George-Mason University have released new studies, with data on Americans' views on climate change, and related issues. This is some of the most up-to-date research available and sheds some light on how the American public feels about environmental issues.

Perhaps as a result of the BP disaster in the Gulf of Mexico, the good news is that public concern about global warming is once again on the rise, up four points since January. Importantly, the number of Americans who said that the issue is personally important to them rose five points, to 63%.

Climate Change in the American Mind: Americans’ Global Warming Beliefs and Attitudes is a general look at how, and why, Americans feel about climate change. This includes data on what Americans consider to be trustworthy sources of climate change information, how much they worry, and what they think will happen in the future. The study also shows opinions over time (June 2010, January 2010, November 2008).

Climate Change in the American Mind: Public Support for Climate & Energy Policies, polled Americans on the current and future energy consequences of climate change and how they think the government should respond.

The Climate Change Generation? Survey Analysis of the Perceptions and Beliefs of Young Americans provides insights from polling of relatively young Americans, between the ages of 18-34. The study found that this group is generally more disengaged and thinks less about climate change than their older counterparts. However, they are more likely to believe climate change is caused by humans, more optimistic about taking action, and more trusting of scientific experts on the subject.

To access these reports, please visit The Ocean Project's "Communicating Conservation" Web page with a comprehensive database of the latest research and resources for information on how to help communicate about climate change with your visitors and help motivate them to take personal action. Suggestions for additional resources to include are always most welcome!

July 2, 2010

Plan Now for our Planet on 10/10/10

On October 10, 2010, you can help our ocean, our climate, and our world by hosting a Global Work Party!

While World Oceans Day 2010 is still fresh, the BP Deepwater disaster in the Gulf of Mexico expands, and momentum continues to build connecting the health of our ocean, the health of our climate, and the health of our cities and communities, you can help by planning an event for 10/10/10.

This Global Work Party provides an opportunity for zoos, aquariums, museums, nature centers, schools and all our 1,200 Partner organizations in 90 countries to organize something tangible in your local area that will celebrate climate solutions. Some examples of activities already planned include: bike repair workshops in San Francisco, school insulating teams in London, wasteland-to-veggie-gardens in New Zealand, and solar panel installations in Kenya. The ideas and opportunities are limitless!

Our Partners reach millions of people; with your active involvement, we can help this event create a huge impact!

You can learn more and sign up to host a local event at http://www.350.org/oct10.

June 11, 2010

Take Action in Honor of Jacques Cousteau

Jacques Cousteau was born on this day 100 years ago. Probably more than any other individual, he has helped people around the world care and learn about the world's ocean and its incredible diversity of life.

In his honor on this centennial celebration, we urge all to take action to help mitigate the ongoing crisis in the Gulf of Mexico and help prevent this type of horrific disaster from happening in the future. The Ocean Project has a new action page that provides specific information on how to help immediately, and also some suggestions for helping in the longer term.

And remember, as Captain Cousteau once said, "The impossible missions are the only ones which succeed."

June 8, 2010

Happy World Oceans Day!

Happy World Oceans Day to our Partners and Friends around the world!

This year's World Oceans Day event is bigger and better than ever, thanks to the involvement of hundreds of organizations in dozens of countries.

While today is a time to celebrate the world's ocean, and our personal connection to the sea, it is also a time to reflect on why the ocean's health is linked to our own personal health, and how what we do to the ocean, we end up doing,
eventually, to ourselves. In short, it's a good time to help make taking care of the ocean a higher priority, personally and politically.

The ongoing environmental, social, and economic disaster in the Gulf of Mexico with the BP oil spill shows how vulnerable the ocean is to human pressures, and also serves as a terrible reminder as to how addicted to oil we are as a society. This year, let's all begin to work harder on weaning ourselves from our oil addiction, and make the world a healthier, and safer, place for all of us, including the diversity of animal and plant life in the ocean.

Each of us can really make positive difference and today is a great day to commit - or re-commit - to making a concerted effort to remember the ocean, not only today but as we move forward with our busy lives, and strive to protect and conserve the ocean for our generation and for future generations. There are many of small, and also bigger, ways we can help. Learn more about how to help and Seas the Day today and then spread the word!

May 20, 2010

Nine Months of Ocean Picture Of the Day

As May 2010 comes to a close, The Ocean Project's Ocean Picture Of the Day service received its 270th contribution from ocean-loving citizens of the world. Contributions have come in from all continents including Antarctica. You can view a new picture every day at theoceanproject.org/opod, choose the prev link to access the archives, change the archive date in the address to see back to any day since September 1, 2009, or best yet, make your own contribution using the OPOD submission form.

Get out your cameras as you celebrate the ocean on or around World Oceans Day on June 8th. Feel one with the ocean. Then, submit a photo and let the world know about it. We'll be waiting to praise your contribution as an OPOD in the months ahead.

May 7, 2010

Oceans of Life

World Oceans Day is approaching soon! You still have time to plan an event, and remember to list your event on the WorldOceansDay.org website!

April 22, 2010

Happy Earth Day!

Today is a special day to celebrates our planet Earth. With nearly 3/4 of Earth actually Ocean, remember how much we depend on a healthy ocean and how each one of us can make a real difference, no matter where we live.

On our interconnected planet, everything that we do for Earth Day also benefits our world's ocean, which is downstream and downwind from all of us.

Keep our shared ocean in mind today and also think about how you can get more involved for World Oceans Day on June 8th!

April 21, 2010

Earlier this Spring, Google launched biking directions with their maps. Great stuff to help us all get around with less carbon polluting means!
Learn more here and here.
You can add a biking directions gadget to your website to encourage visitors to get to your location without creating more carbon pollution. It's a great way for each of us to do our part!

Communicating Conservation resources

The Ocean Project has made a major update to its “Communicating Conservation” Web pages.

From our ongoing monitoring of market and communications research, we have provided dozens of the best resources to help our Partners effectively educate for conservation action. Partners can search the extensive database through various categories including market research, communications strategies, as well as communication and education websites; it's also possible to search by author, year, and title.
The Ocean Project monitors the latest data on public knowledge, opinions, and attitudes about the ocean, climate change, the environment, as well as reviews communications tools and resources to help bring about behavior changes. We focus on both published literature and unpublished gray literature.
If you know about a study or report that you think we should include please let us know!

April 12, 2010

How about an Ocean or Aquatic Cleanup for Earth Day or World Oceans Day?

With Earth Day coming up very soon and World Oceans Day 2010 about 50 days away, consider hosting a beach, river, lake, wetland, or underwater cleanup. It's a rewarding way to really make a difference in your community!

Find a bunch of ideas for how to take conservation action,
including a three-page guide on how to organize a cleanup, at the World Oceans Day website.

March 12, 2010

Celebrate World Oceans Day with Dr. Seuss

The Ocean Project is joining forces with Dr. Seuss to make a big splash for World Oceans Day 2010. The children's book, One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish, celebrates its 50th anniversary this year and in honor of this great occasion, aquariums, zoos, museums, and other organizations will be hosting "Seussian birthday parties."

This offer is only for organizations that are Partners in The Ocean Project network, and not for individuals, so if your aquarium, school, citizens group, club, or other type of organization is not yet an Ocean Project Partner, please join the 1,050 (and growing) organizations involved in the network. Once you join, an email message to you will be generated that includes the password to download the materials.

Partners in The Ocean Project network can take advantage of this exciting opportunity: Download the Dr. Seuss manual and materials today!

Remember to post your WOD 2010 event at the World Oceans Day website and discover all the other tools and resources for you in planning a great event this year.

February 23, 2010

Fun for change

All of us working on positive social change can get more creative and effective at communicating when designing and delivering new programs that entail any type of behavior change.

Community-focused social marketing is one of the most effective ways to go in bringing about positive change, and there are many examples to pull from around the world (e.g. Doug McKenzie-Mohr's Fostering Sustainable Behavior site), on recycling, waste reduction, energy efficiency, pollution prevention, transportation, and a host of other health and sustainability challenges that our institutions and communities all face.

Making it fun is also something to consider when trying to effect behavior change and certainly works for some people (e.g. Thefuntheory.com). Doing something along these lines might also have the added benefit of making people throughout our communities a little bit happier during these economically and otherwise challenging times.

February 11, 2010

Surf Sweets Launches Campaign

Surf Sweets, a socially responsible company that makes naturally sweetened, gummy candies and jelly beans - and also joined last year with The Ocean Project to promote a children's art contest around World Oceans Day (second annual coming soon!) - recently announced a new campaign called Helping Hearts, which will benefit The Ocean Project and ocean conservation.

During the month of February, for any fan who joins its Facebook page, Surf Sweets will donate $1 to one of two charities (one being The Ocean Project.) Fans get to choose which charity they would like to Surf Sweets to donate to upon joining.

It’s easy to join the Surf Sweets Fan Club and help ocean conservation! Simply find Surf Sweets on Facebook, or go to the Surf Sweets website and click Find Us On Facebook. Once there, join the Surf Sweets Fan Club and then select the charity (hopefully The Ocean Project) that you’d like the $1 donation to benefit. And thanks!

January 31, 2010

Media and Internet in the Lives of 8- to 18-Year-Olds

As The Ocean Project's national public opinion research found, young people not only care more about issues affecting our oceans and planet but are also more willing to act than adults. Young people are looked to by their parents as the most knowledgeable source of information in the households on environmental issues and can be very influential in environmental decision-making around the house and in their communities. By better understanding the dynamics of youth, zoo, aquarium, and museum (ZAM) staff can better motivate them for positive action.

Two other recent studies provide plenty of additional insightful data on youth. One comprehensive recent study regarding the use of media by teens and tweens demonstrates the powerful force of various media in young people’s lives. The report, Generation M2: Media in the Lives of 8- to 18-Year-Olds, by the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation, found that teens and tweens spend more time with media than in any other activity besides (maybe) sleeping—an average of more than 7½ hours a day, seven days a week.

In order to reach this huge and influential segment of our population our Partner ZAMs and others in the conservation community need to better understand the role of media in young people’s lives. This study includes much useful information including the types of media youth use, which they own, how much time they spend with each medium, which activities they engage in, how often they multitask, and how they differ from one another in the patterns of their media

Another recent publication, Social Media & Mobile Internet Use Among Today's Teens and Young Adults, by the Pew Research Center, echos many of these findings. It is part of a PRC series of reports exploring the behaviors, values and opinions of the teens and twenty-somethings that make up the Millennial Generation.

This new report presents findings on 2000-2009 trends in the use of social networking sites, features, and applications such as Twitter; method of Internet access; frequency of use, and online purchases and other activities by age group, race/ethnicity, and gender.

According to the report, almost all Millennials (93%) go online, but there has been a decline in blogging among younger Americans. Millennials, however, are increasingly connecting to the internet wirelessly (81% are now) and nearly three in four of those who go online use social networking sites. Teens do not use Twitter in large numbers.

January 6, 2010

Let's make 2010 the best year ever for our world's ocean

Happy New Year!

Start the year off on an ocean theme! The more you learn about our amazing blue planet, the more you will find that a healthy ocean is essential not only for the future of the fish, the coral reefs, and all life in the ocean, but also for our own future.
No matter where you live, your actions impact the ocean and you can make a difference!

Remember to plan an event for World Oceans Day 2010 - it promises to be the biggest and best one ever. It seems far off but is only 150 days away so start planning an event soon!

Please visit www.WorldOceansDay.org to get ideas, inspiration, submit your event online, and connect with others. We also welcome feedback on how best to improve the website for our partners and other friends. A new design and new content is coming soon! Send your thoughts to Bill at bmott@theoceanproject.org. We are also looking for help in translating the site so please contact if you are able to help.