Fog Horn (A Call to Action)
Flotsam (what we’re obsessed with right now)
Flotsam (what we’re obsessed with right now)
Jetsam (what we’re enjoying from around the web)
Instead, I believe that this march needs to be completely apolitical and nonpartisan. I think that we should protest the current administration, which wants to repeal laws guaranteeing clean air and water, claim that climate change is a hoax, and remove scientists’ access to quality healthcare, but in a way that doesn’t alienate members of the current administration. We should demand change, but vaguely, and from no one in particular.
The oceans belong to all of us. With this simple statement in mind, the Oceanography for Everyone (OfE) project was launched with the goal of making ocean science more accessible. One of the biggest hurdles in conducting ocean science is instrumentation costs, and 4 years ago the OfE team began trying to make one of the most basic ocean science tools, the CTD (a water quality sensor that measures Conductivity-Temperature-Depth), cheaper… much, much cheaper!
Joey Maier is a biology professor at Polk State College where he uses every possible opportunity to encourage his students to spend time in the water, play with technology, and do #CitizenScience. As an undergraduate, he did a stint as an intern for Mark Xitco and John Gory during their dolphin language experiments. He then spent the years of his M.Sc. at the University of Oklahoma thawing out and playing with bits of decaying dolphin. After discovering that computers lack that rotten-blubber smell, Joey became a UNIX sysadmin and later a CISSP security analyst.
While his pirate game is weak, he is often seen with a miniature macaw on his shoulder. His spare time is spent SCUBA diving and trying to hang out with people who have submersibles. You can follow him on Twitter or Facebook.
There’s a Klingon bird of prey hanging from the ceiling in my office.
I may teach biology, but at heart I’m a sci-fi nerd. Naturally, I’m interested in futurism, robots, lasers and all manner of techy paraphernalia. I’d been watching the OpenROV project for a while, but hadn’t gotten one yet. They were obviously awesome little machines that gave me a serious case of gadget envy, and I knew that some of our students would love to pilot an ROV. I needed a much better reason than that, however, to justify getting one. There’s no line item in our budget for, “Wow, that’s cool!” and I was fairly certain that the college administration would tend to favor lower cost and more familiar forms of student engagement
Photo courtesy Joey Maier.
This tweet changed everything. When I found out that Andrew had designed a mini-Niskin bottle, the wheels in my head started turning. Assembling an OpenROV would, naturally, be a very STEM-oriented project. The times our students piloted the ROV could become water sampling field trips, and the kids could analyze their samples back at school as a laboratory activity. If students recorded the process, they could make a short film. I mulled over the possibilities and bounced ideas off of my dive buddies during the hours we spent traveling to and from the coast. Read More
I first heard about the new Wyoming law #SF0012 through the Slate article summarizing it as a criminalization of citizen science. There’s a real danger that it could be interpreted and implemented that way, but let’s try and give Wyoming the benefit of the doubt for a minute. The text of the law only requires that scientists (citizen or otherwise) acquire written or verbal permission from landowners for collecting data on their land. It goes on to define what “data” means, including photographs in a fairly wide definition, and “collecting” as taking data with the intention of turning it over to a state or federal agency. It also defines trespassing and outlines the consequences for those who fail to receive permission. In short: the data collector could go to jail and their data will not be admissible in legal or policy proceedings.
At the core, the law re-hashes a fairly common definition of trespassing. The key part of the law that’s new is that the data won’t be admissible in court and the act of turning them over to federal or state agencies will make you an outlaw. Part of me thinks that data collectors, including citizen science groups, should be asking permission to go on someone’s land. This is both to keep ethics at the forefront of our scientific endeavors and for the personal safety of scientists (ranchers are known to carry shotguns, after all). Read More
Two years ago, I moved to San Francisco. It was… an experience. I had the opportunity to meet some incredible technologists, leaders in the emerging world of citizen exploration, and developers, coders, and makers using their skills and expertise to help save the environment. I met some amazing drone builders developing platforms and tools to measure the world. I also learned that West Coast living was not for me. The southern Atlantic coast called me back. But before I left, I led a small team across the Pacific to Papua New Guinea, where we taught undergraduates from the University of Papua New Guinea and the University of the South Pacific how to build and operate OpenROVs and incorporate them into marine ecology research.
The West Coast was good to me. It helped refine my vision for bringing low-cost, open-source technologies into the marine science and conservation world. Citizen science is becoming increasingly important, and the need for both democratizing and decolonizing science will drive much of the evolution of the scientific community in the 21st century. Tools that are effective, cheap, and open-source will play a major role in this transition. I returned east and began planning the next phase of this vision.
The Chesapeake Bay (San Franciscans take heed, you can keep your “Area” but “The Bay” will always be the Chesapeake) is the largest estuary in the United States, is economically important for shipping, fisheries, and tourism, and also happens to be the body of water that I grew up on. I learned to swim, fish, sail, and motor in one of the Bay’s many tributaries. It’s also home to more than a dozen research institutes, which work, sometimes in coordination and sometimes not, on studying and protecting the Bay.
Dr. Ryan Kempster is a shark biologist in the Neuroecology Group at the University of Western Australia. Ryan founded the shark conservation group Support Our Sharks to inform the world about the plight of the most vulnerable shark species. His research focuses on the sensory biology and conservation of sharks and rays. Sharks have always been his passion, and protecting them his goal. To do this, Ryan has embarked on a career in research to better understand sharks. He takes every opportunity to communicate his findings to the general public in the hope that he can inspire others to follow in his passion for protecting these amazing animals.
Effective management of sharks starts with an understanding of their population status, which ultimately instructs their future conservation. Unfortunately, many shark species are at significant risk of unrecoverable decline, with some species having declined to near extinction in recent years. We believe that Citizen Science could hold the key to improving our understanding and management of shark populations, whilst also advancing community education. This is why we have developed SharkBase, a global shark encounter database helping to map the distribution and population structure of sharks worldwide (you can also record ray and skate sightings).
Over where I hang my workday hat, recently we’ve thought a lot about the field of citizen science and how it’s developing. Specifically, the push from leaders and scholars in the field to “retake citizen science” by broadening the definition to include the many formulations of decentralized expertise present in our world in the quest for new knowledge.
As part of that ‘re-taking’, I’ve taken on some of the major stereotypes about citizen science and volunteers. I hope to take on more, and would appreciate suggestions, Mythbusters-style, of stereotypes to investigate. But for now, here’s a roundup of the perceptions thus far:
Participation is Empowering: the verdict is still out Read More
Think about the word ‘ethics’ for a moment. For some, the word creates images of smiling people sitting around a table, the picture of diversity, happily planning a future in which no one is ever taken advantage of. For others, the image may be of nun-like ascetics peering over your shoulder with an armful of paperwork tied together with a pretty bow of red tape. For still others, it’s something heartily discussed in a liberal arts course or late-night dorm philosophizing during doe-eyed college days. In reality, though, practicing ethics is never as clear-cut an image and making ethics part of daily research life is still a distant goal.
Some fields, like genetics and medicine, have had to confront ethical conundrums head-on and consequently, create a precedent for how we think about ethics in a research and institutional context. Sadly, this precedent is full of angry conflict, covering ethical missteps after-the-fact, and millions of dollars worth of lawsuits. This precedent rightfully leaves many people jumpy about addressing ethics head-on, like the proverbial third-rail of program management that no one dare touch for fear of inviting the flak created in these precedent cases. To use another cliched analogy, ethics then becomes the elephant in the room, except this elephant is staring at you over your cubicle wall and periodically sticking its trunk over the wall to search for peanuts. In reality, choosing to not address ethics amounts to consciously deciding to accept whatever emerges organically, whether you like it or not. So what does this mean for less life-or-death fields that work with stakeholders, like the marine sciences? Let’s start with the foundation that’s already laid.
by Michael Bear
Michael Bear is Science Diving Editor for California Diver Magazine and currently contributor to Marine Science Today with over a 1000 cold-water dives, an AAUS (American Academy of Underwater Sciences) Scientific Diver and founder of Sevengill Shark Sightings.org. He lives and work in San Diego.
I am not a professional shark researcher–just an experienced San Diego diver who has been diving in the San Diego area since 2000. In October of 2008, I began hearing reports of encounters between local San Diego divers and Sevengill sharks, (Notorynchus cepedianus). At the time, I thought this a bit unusual, since this was the first I had heard of these encounters in nearly a decade of regular diving in the San Diego area and monitoring local Internet dive boards. Between 2000 and 2006, almost no encounters were reported. But in 2008, that all changed and they began appearing on the dive boards and lists, one here, two there, five there, slowing increasing until it was obvious that something was happening–exactly what was not clear–only that more and more encounters were being reported by divers.
Then, in the summer of 2009, I had my own
memorable encounter with a Sevengill. I was diving off of Point La Jolla when a large seven footer glided majestically between me and my dive buddy, who was no more than two meters away from me. To say we were startled would be an understatement. It was this incident, along with the increase in reports by other divers, caused me to set up a website
later that same year, allowing San Diego divers to log and document their encounters with this species, as a sort of personal citizen science project
, because no local marine institution, including Scripps Institution of Oceanography and NOAA SW Fisheries in La Jolla, had ever done any baseline studies locally prior to this point–I know, because we checked.