A scene-by-scene breakdown of the first trailer of “The Meg”

Yesterday, the trailer for “the Meg” was released online.  This movie is based on a popular book series that claims that megalodon is actually not extinct, just hiding. (I’m in the 4th book).


I have a love-hate relationship with movies like this, by which I mean that I love them and I hate myself for loving them. While movies like “Jaws” had a measurable negative effect on public perception of sharks, I don’t believe that more obviously ridiculous movies like SharkNado have a similar effect.  Jason Statham playing a marine biologist in a movie that includes Rainn Wilson? Sign me up.

If not for the people who believe that these movies are real and therefore decide to yell at marine biologists on twitter about it, I’d be all for this.  Let’s be totally clear here- Carcharocles megalodon is extinct, and here’s how we know. Shark Week lied to you about it. Actresses from this movie asking about it are not experts. This movie is completely fictional. You can certainly watch it and enjoy it, but please don’t cite it as evidence that a 50 foot long whale-eating shark that used to live in shallow coastal waters near what are now populated areas is not extinct.

Anyway, here is a scene-by scene breakdown of what’s in the first trailer. From it, we can tell that this is an action-packed movie with a great cast that does not stick too closely to the books, and is also not particularly interested in scientific accuracy even with respect to issues unrelated to the “giant extinct animals are actually not extinct”central conceit.

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How to support your favorite Southern Fried Science writers in 2018

Southern Fried Science is growing! Thanks to Patreon and a few passive income streams, for the first time in almost a decade, we’re able to begin paying our volunteer writers for their outreach efforts. This year, we’ve established the Southern Fried Science Writers’ Fund to begin paying out compensation for all the incredible work that David, Amy, Chuck, Kersey, Chris, Sarah, Solomon, and Michelle have put in to making this website one of the most read marine science and conservation blog on the internet.

With the exception of a few weird months in 2010, this site has always been 100% free and ad free. But that doesn’t mean it’s free to run. Support from our fans keeps the lights on and the server humming, and now, with the Writers’ Fund, fan support also goes towards getting your favorite ocean writers compensated for their work. There are currently 3 ways to support your favorite Southern Fried Science writers in 2018.

Subscribe to our Patreon Campaign. My Patreon campaign, Andrew Thaler is creating tools for ocean science and conservation, is, by a very wide margin, the primary source of funding for Southern Fried Science. Patreon supporters get exclusive, behind the scenes access, a few surprises, and, of course, the legendary Jaunty Ocean Critter stickers. We now have a subscription tier just for the Southern Fried Science Writers Fund, so if you want to ensure that 100% of you contribution (minus Patreon fees) goes towards supporting our writers, sign up for the $5 per month subscription. There’s also options to cover server costs, support Oceanography for Everyone, or contribute to our general project fund. Even $1 a month makes a huge difference.

Use our Amazon Affiliate Link. Occasionally you might find an Amazon Affiliate link embedded in an article, if, for example, we’re talking about a book or a new tool or presenting a bill of materials for a new project. When you use these links to buy something, we get a small kickback from Amazon. This is the closest thing to an ad that you’ll see on Southern Fried Science. You can also use this Amazon Affiliate Link to go straight to Amazon and we’ll get a tiny percentage of anything you buy from them. So when you’re ready for a 3D printer or a new hagfish textbook or a $36,000 Wyland original oil painting of dancing orcas, consider using our Amazon Affiliate Link. It doesn’t cost you anything, and it helps us out a ton.

Send a one-time PayPal donation. If Amazon isn’t your jam and you’re not ready to commit to a monthly subscription or you’d just rather send one lump sum, you can send a contribution to me via PayPal. Just make a note that it’s for the Southern Fried Science Writers’ Fund or Southern Fried Science in general.

Unfortunately, because of the way we’ve structured Southern Fried Science, Oceanography for Everyone, and other properties that fall under the same aegis, contributions to Southern Fried Science are not tax deductible. 

Surviving a Double Hurricane (a first person report of the Puerto Rico disaster by Heather Cooke)

Heather Cooke graduated with an environmental science degree from George Mason University and studied marine biology. She is now a dive instructor and runs Culebra Divers on Culebra Island. This article was written during brief moments of power on Culebra Island.


As General Manager of Culebra Divers in Culebra, Puerto Rico for the last 2.5 years, I have enjoyed our semi-arid island with its brief storms. Known for one of the safer harbors in the Caribbean, my husband and I watched tropical storm after tropical storm and hurricane after hurricane pass us by. What I am writing is based on our experiences and what others around me have experienced or shared from their families on our sister islands.

Culebra the smallest of 3 islands that make up what you know as Puerto Rico (the “mainland”, Vieques, and us) and we’re 17 miles from the mainland itself.  To get here you fly from San Juan or take a ferry from the mainland’s east coast. We get all our food and fuel via that same ferry system. Our water and power travel under the ocean from the mainland through Vieques and then to us so if anything happens to either of those islands, we are screwed.  The island has a rag tag rental generator and no desalination plant.

As I write this, it has been 34 days since Maria and 48 since Irma and we still lack non-generator power, reliable daily water, and cell service not provided by some other island.

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How to help our island colleagues in the wake of total devastation.

After three brutal hurricanes, the islands of the Caribbean are hurting. It can be hard, in the wake of catastrophe, to know where your donations can be best spent. We’ve contacted several of our colleagues on the ground to find out who’s doing the work and which aid organizations and groups need help now.

Puerto Rico

Hi, my name is [your name], resident of District [your disctrict], zip code [your zip code] and I don’t need a response.

I’m calling to ask the [Senator/Congressman/Congresswoman] to join the efforts of some of his colleagues in Congress–like Congressman José Serrano, Congresswoman Nydia Velázquez, Senator Marco Rubio, Resident Commissioner Jennifer González, and others–to put pressure on the federal government to provide more assistance to Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands after being hit by Hurricane Maria, and on Congress to allocate the necessary funds/resources to do so. Also, to please join some of these representatives on calling for at least one year exemption from the Jones Act or US Cabotage laws to Puerto Rico.

Thank you!

source.

US Virgin Islands

Antigua and Barbuda

Dominica

Turks and Caicos

British Virgin Islands

Feel free to recommend your favorite organizations providing aid on the ground in the comments below. We would prefer to focus on ground efforts driven by affected communities, rather than large, international aid organizations.

The many, many ways I screwed up my first science crowdfunding campaign.

Four generations of field hardened OpenCTDs.

It’s been over five years since Kersey Sturdivant and I launched Oceanography for Everyone – The OpenCTD, my first attempt at crowdfunding science. Over the years, that initial effort has grown into Oceanography for Everyone, a community of researchers, educators, and citizen scientists, and has created new open-source tools for open-source, open-science hardware. The OpenCTD is the finest oceanographic instrument that you can build in your own home for less than $300.

The crowdfunding campaign was a total disaster.

Since then, I’ve written several articles on how scientists can launch and managed crowdfunding campaigns:

…but I’ve never written explicitly about what we did wrong during that campaign and how it impacted our success. Now that the final reward from that campaign has been delivered (yes, five years later, talk about the eternally delayed crowdfunding campaign), it’s the right moment to look back and think about how everything went so wrong.

went with lesser-known platforms. We launched the OpenCTD on RocketHub. At the time, RocketHub was hosting the #SciFund Challenge, a campaign to encourage scientists to launch science crowdfunding campaigns. Both the #SciFundChallenge and RocketHub were relatively small players in the nascent crowdfunding world. RocketHub doesn’t even appear to do crowdfunding anymore, they’ve pivoted to a “social network for entrepreneurs”. The old OpenCTD campaign page is long deprecated. #SciFund Challenge’s website hasn’t been updated in almost half a year.

Here’s the thing with crowdfunding, and especially crowdfunding in the early days: There are two dominant communities that you can rely on. There’s the community of people who want to support what you’re doing and there’s the community of people enamored with the idea of crowdfunding. Being a crowdfunding “investor” is a hobby in and of itself and many of the biggest donors are people who support dozens of different campaigns. So the larger and more popular the platform, the more crowdfunding enthusiasts you’ll attract. Heck, since backing the very first OpenROV, I’ve backed 23 other projects on Kickstarter, most recently Public Lab’s Balloon Mapping kits.

By going with RocketHub, I committed our campaign to a smaller potential audience. Considering Kickstarter was garnering huge press at the time, this was a near-fatal mistake.

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There’s only one way to get these exclusive, limited-edition Jaunty Ocean Critter stickers!

Note: The following is a plug for my Patreon campaign. Funds raised in this campaign go towards keeping the Southern Fried Science servers running as well as research and development for Oceanography for Everyone


Behold the Unflappable Mola Mola!

Soon after the completion of Jacques Week 2017, I realized that I now had a collection of ocean animals wearing jaunty red cap doodles that were almost purpose made to be turned into stickers. So after a bit of research, a lot of redesigns, and a few test runs, the Jaunty Ocean Critter collection was born! Every month for the next year, I’m releasing a new, limited-edition run of Jaunty Ocean Critter stickers for your amusement, bemusement, and sea-musement. Die-cut on heavy vinyl, these stickers will hold up in the water, on your laptop, or attached to your favorite piece of oceanographic equipment.  Read More

How to spot a scam shark documentary producer

Many aspects of science-ing are not explicitly taught, and scientists become accustomed to mastering the deep end.  While this tactic can make you stronger, there are situations where the deep end is a vulnerable place where nasty critters are very happy to take advantage.

One such area?  How to handle being contacted by “producers.”  In my experience, for every 1 exceptional producer you speak with, you will be contacted by at least 4 scammers.  Scam producers will particularly target naïve early-career scientists, just like white sharks and seal pups.  In light of this week, I’ve put together a guide to aid YOY scientists rising in the ranks of popularity and make the deep end a little safer.  Here are 13 ways to spot scam shark documentary producers, with a few 🚩🚩:

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March for the Science that uplifts humanity.

The March for Science has a diversity problem.

Ok, to be clear, the committee organizing the march is the one with the problem. As they’re about to find out, a movement like this will resist, among other things, the efforts of a few to take ownership over a much grander view of life. The Science March on Washington (and the marches in your home state) is bigger than one organization.

Five months ago, we issued a mandate for Southern Fried Science, that we would strive to tear down barriers, to breach the dam, because Diversity is Resilience. Seeing the March for Science struggle and seemingly succumb to the same weathered barricades reinforced, for me, exactly why we need that mandate.

“Science isn’t political” is a lovely Platonic platitude that we whisper reassuringly into comfortable ears.

It is not so.

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Hone your social media #SciComm skills with ocean science pros.

Looking to boost your ocean outreach skills in a more formal setting? We’ve got two opportunities for social media training with ocean science and ocean communications experts from Southern Fried Science:

LUMCON Summer Course: Join me at the Louisiana Universities Marine Consortium on the Gulf Coast for a week-long workshop on Science Communication Using Social Media led by yours truly. We’ll cover the foundations of social media platforms and best practices for communicating your research to both general and targeted audiences. We’ll also discuss metrics and measuring how effective your outreach really is.

Duke Environmental Leadership Program: For the fifth year, Dr. Amy Freitag and I will run Social Media for Environmental Communications, a 7-week, online-only course that digs deep into the fundamentals of using social media for environmental communications, provides a critical assessment of the available tools, and teaches student to design effective communications campaigns and assess their impact.

 

A Reading List for Environmental Resistance

We have entered a challenging new era for conservation and the environmental movement. Some of us feel as if we are hanging from the edge of a cliff. Others are preparing for the battles ahead. And many of us are still reeling from the whirlwind of changes taking place seemingly overnight.

We can’t tell you how to feel or how to act. We can’t really offer any comfort either, at least none that feels sincere. What we can provide are resources culled from a lifetime working in conservation science to provide, if not a map, than at least a scattered set of guideposts to remind us of where we’ve been and direct us to where we need to be going.

Over the last few weeks, I’ve been collecting and curating a reading list for the conservation professionals, managers, and activists. I’ve culled from a diverse groups of writers to both focus and expand my vision of what conservation could become in the coming years.

This is, of course, not a comprehensive list of writings, but rather those which I have turned to, or turned back to, in the last few months, for inspiration and understanding. Some of them may seem a little out of place, but they have all offered guidance and insight as we move forward into this brave new world. Read More