The Sixth Extinction

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Throughout the history of the planet, there has been an evolution and flux of species. From the first microorganisms found in the ocean billions of years ago, to the evolution of land-based plants, invertebrate and vertebrate animals, reptiles, mammals, and to the millions of species we now know of today. Historically, the earth has experienced five mass extinction events. These have been linked to some sort of natural disturbance where three-quarters of all species were lost over a short geological period. Glaciation events, volcanic eruptions, and asteroid impacts are theorized to be the cause of these five mass extinctions.

Recently, some scientists hypothesized that the earth is undergoing a sixth extinction event linked to the evolution of human civilization. This theory suggests that over the course of human history, people have caused the extinction of species on a massive scale. As humans became more civilized, we began altering the environment to fit our needs. We altered the land for agricultural uses; as our tools became more advanced, we were able to hunt more efficiently on land and in water; we built cities, and have extracted resources from the earth in ways never done before. These alterations and interactions with the environment have led to the loss of habitats, overexploitation of animals, and caused irreversible loss of the earth’s organisms.

Announcing our Educator’s Guide for the IMAX film, Ocean Odyssey

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One of the most spectacular mammals in the ocean, a humpback whale, emerges from the deep blue ocean to take a breath. Only seconds later, we see its calf surface too. This mother and calf pair are traveling from the Great Barrier Reef, Australia where, for the past couple of months, they have been taking shelter in protected coastal waters, while the calf grows bigger and stronger so it can endure the migration back to Antarctica. This is how Ocean Odyssey, an IMAX® giant screen film, begins unraveling this pairs remarkable journey that depicts how the ocean on life and land are intricately connected.

We started on our own Ocean Odyssey journey with K2 Studios, the film company who produced it. K2 studios specializes in making educational films for IMAX®, Giant Screen, and other specialty theaters located in museums, science centers, zoos, and aquariums around the world. Teachers who bring students on field trips to these educational centers hope to engage students in exploratory and impactful learning outside of the classroom. Often a part of this experience includes watching educational documentaries. When K2 Studios creates a film, they also aim to provide additional learning resources for students so that they can expand on educational experiences that they had on their field trip. That is where we come into the story…

Educators Dive into Ocean Odyssey

Lesson plans now available to accompany a film for IMAX® and other Giant Screen Theaters featuring Her Deepness, Dr. Sylvia Earle   ANNAPOLIS, MD — The Khaled bin Sultan Living Oceans Foundation (KSLOF), in partnership with K2 Studios, has just …

2023 Science Without Borders® Q&A Session – November 30th

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Are you interested in participating in the 2023 Science Without Borders® Challenge, but you have questions about the contest? Are you unsure where to begin? Join us on November 30, 2022, 7 pm Eastern Time (ET) for the first of two Science Without Borders® Challenge Q&A sessions. On this Zoom call, we will go over the contest rules, how to enter the contest, more information about the theme, how to interpret the grading rubric, and provide tips for creating a beautiful and impactful piece of artwork that may help you to win the contest. At the same time, we will answer any questions that participants may have about the contest.

Time Out for Turtles – Part 2

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I meet my colleagues at Alligator Head Foundation (AHF) at 7am to gather materials that will help us to monitor sea turtle nests. Despite the early morning hour, there is a contagious enthusiasm in all who are going to search for sea turtle nests. We pile into two vehicles and drive to the beach.

We drive down a gravel road getting the first glimpse of the Jamaican turquoise blue water glimmering in the sunlight. Gathering our supplies, we walk across a wooden plank straddling a small ravine that leads to a small sandy beach in a quiet little cove, which is a perfect location for sea turtles to lay their eggs.

Francine Cousins, a conservation officer at Alligator Head Foundation looks for turtle tracks that could lead us to a nest. The weekend’s tides have washed away the evidence, so she grabs a thin rounded stick and looks for disturbed areas of sand. When she finds one, she gently begins poking her stick through the sand, feeling for areas where the sand easily gives way. She methodically and repeatedly pokes the sand until she strikes gold. She finds an area where the stick easily slides through the sand. Alligator Head Foundation’s employees, Floyd and Kymani anxiously, but carefully, begin removing the sand until a tiny round white egg, the size of a golf ball, appears…

Time Out for Turtles – Part 1

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103…104…105…,” Denise says as the sea turtle egg count ends. Occasionally, when I’m in Jamaica for the J.A.M.I.N. program, I get to volunteer to help my partners at the Alligator Head Foundation (AHF). One morning, it was a privilege to be invited to help monitor sea turtle nests on a beach in Portland.

There are seven species of sea turtles in the world. Four of these species are found in Jamaica – hawksbill, green, loggerhead, and leatherbacks. Globally, sea turtle populations are in decline. Sea turtles in Jamaica face threats including improper planning and development of beaches, illegally poaching eggs and adult turtles, and predators such as dogs, mongoose, and ants consuming eggs and hatchlings.

Welcome, Saskia! KSLOF welcomes a master’s student to study our Mangrove Education & Restoration Program

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Six months ago, I was certain that I would be travelling to Indonesia to research mangrove crabs for my master’s thesis. The project was funded, and I was prepared to leave for Indonesia when suddenly, I received information that local fishermen could not catch enough crabs for me to conduct research. At such a late date, this was incredibly stressful news!

Around this time, I began to wonder if I could picture myself in the biological sciences or if I should make a step towards the field of social science. During my travels around the world, I was always interested (and often shocked) to observe the interaction between humans and nature. A few years ago, I travelled to southeast Asia to study whale shark populations. While studying these majestic creatures, I noticed the interactions occurring between tourists and the whale sharks. I had moments where I was frustrated, angry, and emotional, seeing whale sharks startle tourists who would fearfully kick and hit the whale sharks. Not only did I get angry at the tourists but at the local people working in this industry; however, after getting to know the locals and seeing their dismal economic situation, I began to think differently. I wanted to understand local people and their problems. I realized that in order to make a difference, you need to incorporate social sciences into environmental science, so that both can find a way to live in harmony.

We be J.A.M.I.N. Again!

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I see the twinkle of anticipation in my colleagues’ eyes as they hold up their phones waiting to record me filling my lungs to say, “Gooooood moooorning, Port Antonio High School!” My colleagues at Alligator Head Foundation beam and I grin back at them and wink. We have all waited two and a half years for this moment. This long-awaited welcome officially marks the start of the Jamaica Awareness of Mangroves in Nature (J.A.M.I.N.) and it feels good to be J.A.M.I.N. again.

The last time I was in Jamaica implementing J.A.M.I.N. was in early February 2020, before COVID-19 was declared a global pandemic. When the pandemic hit, none of us imagined that it would be years until we could implement the program again. It crushed me when we had to cancel the remainder of the 2020-21 academic year and then again, the following year. Now, we renew program again with more enthusiasm than ever.

Our partners at the Alligator Head Foundation and the University of the West Indies Discovery Bay Marine Lab are by my side aiding me in implementing the program. I couldn’t be more overjoyed to be working with them again. We fell right back into routine with each other as if no time had passed at all.

The Blue & Green Security Forum

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Earlier this month, H.R.H. Princess Hala bint Khaled bin Sultan spoke about the importance of marine conservation for sustainable development at The Global Diwan’s Blue & Green Security Forum in Nice, France.

This high-level event brought together business leaders, experts, and decision makers from Europe and the Middle East to tackle some of tomorrow’s most important challenges: the environment and food security. Designed to inspire a renewed dialogue between Europe and the Arab world, the Forum covered many topics related to sustainable economic and human development in the MENA region. It also highlighted women and young leaders who are committed to providing solutions.

As a Director of the Living Oceans Foundation, Princess Hala spoke eloquently about her own journey into marine conservation and the Foundation’s work to preserve healthy oceans for current and future generations. She also called upon the global community to support efforts to conserve coral reefs and other coastal marine ecosystems—before it is too late.

See what she said in her speech from the opening session…