Got grants? New small grants for marine conservation launched by SCB Marine

ConservationSeptember 17, 20150

The Society for Conservation Biology Marine Section (SCB Marine) has just  initiated their Conservation Small Grants Program (CSGP) to fund worthy conservation projects around the globe.

Society for Conservation Biology - Marine Section's photo.

The grants will vary from $500-$700 and priority is being given to individuals from developing countries and those working in developing countries, where projects a small amount of money could make a big difference. The application form is short and simple and some suggested activities that describe the sort of projects that could be funded include:

providing materials to train local residents to reduce impacts of human activities on marine animals and their habitats;

developing educational materials or equipment for teaching fishers to reduce bycatch;

surveys of previously un-surveyed areas to evaluate status and conservation of marine organisms or habitats.

 What is particularly nice is the efforts that have been made to make the application process accessible to all marine scientists with large type, translated and even braille versions of the application material being available.
So if you have a developing country project where $500 would make a big difference, do think about applying, or forward the details to a colleague for whom this grant might be helpful !

Applications now open for the Elasmobranch Society’s new diversity in marine science initiative

marine science, Natural Science, ScienceSeptember 16, 20150

The American Elasmobranch Society is the world's oldest and largest professional association of shark and ray scientists

The American Elasmobranch Society is the world’s oldest and largest professional association of shark and ray scientists

The American Elasmobranch Society, the world’s oldest and largest professional society focusing on the scientific study and management of sharks and their relatives, is now welcoming applications for the Young Professional Recruitment Fund, our new diversity initiative. Awardees will be given one year of Society membership, in addition to specialized professional development training, mentorship, and networking opportunities specific to their needs as international or historically underrepresented minority scientists and professionals.

To be eligible for the Young Professional Recruitment Fund, applicants must fill out the application below and demonstrate that they:


Ocean Kickstarter of the Month: The OpenROV Trident

Citizen Science, Education, ScienceSeptember 14, 20150

The future of ocean exploration is here.

OpenROV Trident – An Underwater Drone for Everyone by OpenROV

I’ve been watching, exploring, and working with the folks at OpenROV since their last Kickstarter, way back in 2012. Today they announce the launch of Trident, the next generation underwater vehicle, and one of the most capable microROVs that I’ve ever seen. I had the rare pleasure to join them in Lake Tahoe this May to test fly one of the earliest prototypes, and it surpassed all of my expectations.

You don’t need to hear me sing the praises of one of the most important emergent technologies in marine science and conservation. The rise of affordable, capable, portable underwater robots will fundamentally change the way we think about exploring the ocean and monitoring ocean health.

Onward to the Ocean Kickstarter criteria!

1. Is it sound, reasonable, and informed by science? You bet. OpenROV have been building underwater vehicles for upwards of four years. I use their robots in my research and education programs. The first peer-reviewed publication using OpenROV as a research platform will be coming out at the end of the month.  (more…)

When conservation scientists talk the talk but don’t walk the walk

UncategorizedSeptember 4, 2015

A couple of days ago I was at a big meeting to welcome environmental scientists into our university. The catering supplied by the university came on non-recyclable plastic, with non-recyclable plastic glasses cups for drinks and some food items that were from infamously unsustainable sources. Instead of going away saying what a great program, half of those going out of the door were talking about the catering faux pas. To be fair, the organizers didn’t expect catering was going to bring the environmental equivalent of platters of grilled panda marinated in dolphin tears, but then again this is something that perhaps they might have anticipated – after all the University administrators have put the Environmental Science Department in one of the most energy inefficient, environmentally unfriendly buildings on campus. In winter, you can see plumes of heat and asbestos leaking from the faculty’s office windows from miles away.


What kind of scientist do you want to – and should you – be?

Natural Science, Science Life, Social Science, UncategorizedSeptember 2, 2015

Last month, I had the great privilege of attending the 100th Ecological Society of America meeting. This meant there were many opportunities to reflect upon the last century of ecological science and think about what worked, what didn’t, and where we go from here. As with many of the sciences, this involved a lot of hypothesizing about what a future successful scientific career will look like. Almost unanimously agreed upon was the fact that the rigid and one-track paths of the past are crumbling around us as we speak. Ecology also has much to teach the world, in an age of trying to deal with global issues of climate change, food security, and ecosystem service conservation.

In one of these sessions, a number of the speakers pointed to a book written about 1990’s scientific practice by Donald Stokes called Pasteur’s Quadrant. While an old reference now, the speakers encouraged us that we haven’t truly taken the message to heart yet, and that the type of inward gaze on scientific culture is exactly what we need today. In short, Stokes classified scientists into four types, depending on whether their mission was to advance understanding of the universe, help solve real-life issues, both, or neither. He then aligned some well-known scientists with each category.pasteur_quadrant


In the ecological world and the talks at ESA, the lower right quadrant was occupied by natural historians – people with deep local knowledge but without much practical use. Each person who presented the quadrants included a different natural historian, which made the general point: no one remembers people who work in this quadrant, but that doesn’t mean that they’re not important or that folks in other quadrants don’t rely on their work regularly.

More generally, the conversation of who goes where brings up an overlay of professional rewards. People who win Nobel prizes, or MacArthur awards in ecology, almost all fit in the Bohr quadrant. People remembered popularly by members of the public over centuries  almost all fit in the Edison quadrant. However, potentially the most impactful (if unappreciated) work falls within Pasteur’s quadrant, where it can meet the needs of both scientific and public audiences. Stokes went on to say that more people should be trained and rewarded for use-inspired research.

In the coming century of ecology, and all science, we are tasked with advancing our knowledge of the universe while also contributing to some very large global issues. Pasteur and others like him are living proof that achieving both goals simultaneously is possible. Not everyone can be Pasteur, as we rely on workers in all four quadrants to put together a complete scientific profile. But we could help out future generations by redefining one kind of success as use-inspired theory building. By cutting down the basic/applied divide and admitting that doing applied work does not make you a lesser scientist. And remember to give credit to your natural historians.

Three ways to support Southern Fried Science and Ocean Outreach

BloggingAugust 24, 2015

Every year, Southern Fried Science and our related outreach campaigns churn out hundreds of articles about marine science and conservation, coordinate innovative, multimedia outreach campaigns, and produce both educational tools and actual open-source hardware to help protect the ocean. These efforts aren’t free and our authors volunteer their time and expertise to help make Southern Fried Science one of the most visited marine science and conservation websites on the internet. Server costs run in excess of $3,000 per year, and that not including tech support and website development, all of which are voluntary and occasionally offset by funding campaigns. We don’t run ads. We don’t charge for access to our content.

So how can you help support Southern Fried Science?

  1. Read, discuss, and share our blog posts, videos, articles, tweets, and other projects. That’s why we do this.
  2. Contribute to Andrew’s Patreon. Website Overlord Andrew David Thaler runs a Patreon page to help offset the bulk of the cost of running Southern Fried Science, cover his tech support time, and fund new and interesting projects. The big stuff – keeping the website running, developing open-source hardware, buying capital equipment – all happens through support from his Patrons. This year, two peer-reviewed publications are slated to come out acknowledging financial support from Patreon.
  3. Use our Amazon Affiliate links. On some projects that involve buying hardware (or book reviews), we provide links to the parts we use. These links are Amazon Affiliate links, a small percentage of you purchase through that link goes back to us. It’s a simple, no fuss way to show you support.

You could also buy one of Andrew’s books – which are outreach efforts in their own rights, but those profits aren’t directly earmarked for Southern Fried Science.


Thanks for buying David Shiffman (A.K.A. me) a less ugly pair of sunglasses!

UncategorizedAugust 21, 2015

In April, Andrew introduced the “Buy David Shiffman less ugly sunglasses” crowdfunding campaign, a campaign which included several amazing donor perks like 3D printed megalodon teeth. All funds raised in excess of the cost of a new pair of prescription sunglasses would go towards ongoing shark conservation research and outreach projects. After a month of campaigning, we raised $2,440 from 92 donors!


Once the funds had been transferred, I spent an extremely amusing afternoon at my neighborhood LensCrafters asking the staff and customers (along with my Facebook fans and twitter followers) to vote on which pair of sunglasses I should get. A few days later…. my new, improved, less ugly sunglasses arrived in the mail:


Oarfish: The true tale of the fish we can’t seem to get enough of

BloggingAugust 19, 2015

IMG_0355Dr. Misty Paig-Tran is Assistant Professor at California State University Fullerton. Her laboratory (Functional Anatomy, Biomechanics, and Biomaterials) studies how animals feed and move, among other things. Her research is focused on big filter-feeding animals (Sharks and Manta rays) and mid-deep water fishes – you know, the scary looking ones. You can learn about her research hereand you can follow her on twitter

Today I sit at my computer totally aghast that the media seems to have gone into a frenzy once again about the latest oarfish that washed up on Catalina yesterday. I get it. I too, as a marine biologist and self-admitted fish nerd, get totally excited any time a cool fish washes up. And I get extra excited about the oarfish in particular. Of course I do, I am currently studying the fish in my lab at Cal State. What’s not to like? It’s huge, silvery, and looks like a dragon. Myths about this fish are old and salty. However, there has been a ton of misinformation printed about this fish and now it’s my chance to set some things straight. So I will try to rectify this now. Ahem.





One of the world’s rarest birds is also the squee-est

#OceanOptimism, Conservation, ecology

Introducing the spoon-billed sandpiper:

(c) Roland Digby/WWT/PA Wire, originally published

(c) Roland Digby/WWT/PA Wire, originally published here.

Spoon-billed sandpipers are migratory wader birds that breed in the sub-Arctic and winter in southeast Asia.  Best estimates point to less than 100 breeding pairs left in the wild due to a decrease of breeding habitat in the Arctic and increase of bird-hunters in Asia.  Don’t worry, this is a story about #OceanOptimism…


Ocean Kickstarter of the Month: Recycled Fishing Net Sunglasses

ConservationAugust 18, 2015

Yesterday on twitter, I discussed what I look for when assessing ocean-themed crowdfunding projects. Before I fund a crowdfunding campaign, I do quite a bit of due diligence, looking at the past success of the creators, the soundness of the project, and whether or not the goals, rewards, and timelines are reasonable. My criteria are:

1. Is it sound, reasonable, and informed by science?

2. Is there a clear goal, timeline, and budget; and are they partnering with the people who have experience hitting those marks?


3. Do some of the parties involved have a successful record with other crowdfunding projects and experience delivering on rewards.

It seems a shame to go through all that work and not pass it on to the rest of Team Ocean. Rather than keep it to myself (or, more likely, just tweet it out), once a month I’ll highlight my favorite ocean crowdfunding campaign. These campaigns are vetted in accordance with the above criteria, are likely to succeed, and are likely to result in a net positive for the ocean. Unsurprisingly, this month it’s the campaign that inspired this post:

The Ocean Collection – Recycled Fishing Net Sunglasses by Bureo 

Can we turn discarded fishing nets into something meaningful? This project is both simple and elegant. the ocean is filled with discarded fishing nets, most of which have decades left on their material usefulness. Nets are durable and malleable, so why not collect and reform these nets into something of value.

Is it sound, reasonable, and informed by science? Yes. Bureo has already demonstrated that recycled nets can be formed into usable products, discarded nets are a real problem and this is a reasonable solution which can have a measurable, if potentially only small and localized, impact. Plus, they have a vision for end-to-end recycling. Once your sunglasses reach the end of their useful life, you can send them back to the company to have them re-recycled. (more…)

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