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

Small changes and new faces at Southern Fried Science

We’ve got some small changes and new additions to the growing Southern Fried Science family.

Due to their long and consistent commitment to maintaining the blog, Drs. Kersey Sturdivant and Chris Parsons have been promoted to the lofty and prestigious rank of Senior Correspondent. Congratulations!

We’re also thrilled to announce the addition of a new writer, Dr. Solomon David!

Solomon an aquatic ecologist who studies freshwater fish biodiversity and conservation. His current research focuses on ecology and conservation of Great Lakes migratory fishes, “Ancient Sport Fish” (e.g. gars and bowfins), and peripheral populations of species. An avid fan of “primitive fishes” and advocate for native species conservation, Solomon strives to effectively communicate science to both the research community and general public to raise awareness of the value of aquatic ecosystems and freshwater biodiversity.

You can follow Solomon on Twitter @SolomonRDavid and @PrimitiveFishes.

We’re super excited to welcome Solomon to our team and learn more about America’s inland seas!

Here’s what top science news stories of the year listicles said are the top marine science news stories of the year

Year-in-review news roundups are one of my favorite parts of December. I really enjoy remembering all of the interesting and inspiring things that happened over the past year, especially after a rough year like this one. I especially enjoy “top science news of the year” roundups, and I was pleased to see marine science stories make the cut on many of them. For your “but why is this considered a top story but that isn’t” debating pleasure, here are the marine science news stories that made top science news stories of the year listicles!

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The Worlds First Empirical ‘How-To’ Get Into Graduate School Book

Many years ago as a graduate student at the College of William & Mary, Virginia Institute of Marine Science, my former officemate (Noelle Relles) and I came up with a novel idea: take all the disparate information out there about strategies for getting into graduate school in the natural sciences and coalesce them into a single concise yet comprehensive text. Essentially develop a How-To book about graduate school. But we wanted the book to be more than just instructional anecdotes. We were scientist, and thought it would be useful to add a level of empiricism to the book. We wanted to write a How-To book where the conclusion were driven by results from a national survey of graduate admissions offices in the USA. At the time, writing a book based on a national survey of graduate programs seemed like quite a long-shot as we were both a number of years removed from getting our PhDs, and the most pressing issues in our lives at that time were graduating and finding free food and alcohol.

Living the life of a graduate student at VIMS’ infamous Fall Party. (Photo credit: Kersey Sturdivant)

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Diversity is Resilience

We stand at a crossroads.

Southern Fried Science has occupied a unique niche in the online ocean community. We have defended commercial and recreational fishers as often as we have opposed them. We have at times stood behind ocean conservation policy and at times pushed back against excessive legislation. We have criticised those within our community and those without. We have been radically libertarian and radically socialist and every label in between.

We are comfortable joining the long call, the great song that booms from the belly of a blue whale, and circles the world as it echoes through the community.

We are comfortable being the lone cry of dissent, pushing back against the onslaught of righteous exuberance.

We have never sought consensus, only common ground.

For almost a year now a phrase has been rattling around inside my head. At first it was just  catchy cadence, something to use on the next article. But the more I thought about it, the more I came to understand what it really means; how deeply it permeates almost every aspect of life on this planet.

Diversity is resilience. Read More

I trained a recursive neural network on old Southern Fried Science posts, then asked it about the future of ocean conservation.

Over the weekend, I decided to try my hand at some deep-learning using recurrent neural networks to create a text-writing bot trained on old Southern Fried Science posts. After 48 hours of training, the Southern Fried AI was born. This is what it has to say about the future of ocean conservation.


In the future, ocean conservation priorities will be dictated by the conservation conservation project. In the post of energy sharks and most of the greatest over the study has been conservation and dedicated to watch of conservation, the all new way that was she than a community to show better some astronation there is a research work (and sharks) in a more server shows of the research design of a discovery of campaign that even the results of some of the operational shark sources in the Climate change for the ensing and make that it may also end in the science of the response to the population of positions of marine scientists with my most months of cheap more and the project of a shark (with sampling and interesting proposal great from the final fishermen in the science and species of mermaids and other projects with some of the career of the Sea How and has a project that will be a dogfish down their beran place to go as a restoration and the ocean that submerse to have interesting a public posting ocean deciding enough to be asking “we could can be among the transports that is a shark critical components.”

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Ocean Outreach in an Evolving Online Ecosystem: Exploration wants to be shared

This is the transcript of the keynote I delivered at the Fourth International Marine Conservation Congress in St. John’s, Newfoundland. It has been lightly modified for flow.

Read Act II: Transforming the Narrative.

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Now I want to shift gears and look towards the future, where we’re going, and what tools are available to help us get there. Because the future of ocean outreach, and really the future of ocean conservation, comes down to this one concept: “Exploration wants to be shared”.

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Sealand courtesy the Daily Beast

The online ocean ecosystem is full of platforms–preexisting tools that allow us to produce, share, broadcast, enhance, and manage our outreach campaigns. Not just the obvious ones like Twitter and Facebook, but more niche tools like Slack, github, Ushahidi, medium, and yes, even PokemonGo, or if you want something a bit more serious, consider R as something that’s not just a statistics package, but a way to share your own software and data with the scientific community.

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Ocean Outreach in an Evolving Online Ecosystem: Transforming the Narrative

This is the transcript of the keynote I delivered at the Fourth International Marine Conservation Congress in St. John’s, Newfoundland. It has been lightly modified for flow.

Read Act I: Science is Storytelling. 

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In Act I I discussed the underlying structure that frames narrative storytelling, but now I want to talk about how we can use the tools available to us on the internet to transform that narrative into something even more potent.

But before we can do that I have to tilt at some windmills.

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When we talk about good outreach, we often look to people like Neil deGrasse Tyson, like Bill Nye, like David Attenborough, and like Carl Sagan. These are the paragons of scientific outreach, the icons that we often hold up as examples for what constitutes good outreach. We talk about things like Cosmos, both Sagan’s and deGrasse Tyson’s, Bill Nye the Science Guy and his more recent work combating climate change, or David Attenborough and his astounding Nature Documentaries. Read More

Ocean Outreach in an Evolving Online Ecosystem: Science is Storytelling

This is the transcript of the keynote I delivered at the Fourth International Marine Conservation Congress in St. John’s, Newfoundland. It has been lightly modified for flow. 

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Good morning and thank you all for coming, especially this early after a long week of conferencing. What I want to do today is talk a little bit about the history of online outreach, talk about how to build effective outreach campaigns, and look towards the future to think about how new technologies are shaping and reshaping the ways in which we think about public engagement with science and conservation.

Picture3So science is storytelling. Sometimes that story an adventure. Sometimes it’s a mystery. Sometimes it’s the dense and weighty exposition of Ulysses and sometimes it’s the absurdity of Finnegan’s Wake, but it is always a story. Read More