Meet the Interns: Janelle Levine

Written by

Have you ever dreamt of working with corals? Our interns here at the Khaled bin Sultan Living Oceans Foundation are making it happen. Meet Janelle, our newest communications intern. Read on to see how she made her way to us!

Can you tell us a bit about your background?
I have a very non-traditional background, and made my way to the Living Oceans Foundation in a pretty roundabout way. My undergraduate degree is actually in philosophy with a focus in philosophy of science.

After graduating into the recession of 2008, one of my first jobs was at a scuba shop. I had never been scuba diving and was hired to help with swim lessons, but quickly found myself partaking in the scuba classes, as well. I spent a number of years helping with scuba classes, as well as diving recreationally and volunteering in an aquarium. As part of my job at the dive shop, I would often play the ‘victim’ in scuba rescue classes, meaning the scuba instructor would find me a spot underwater, and I would sit still in the shallow water, waiting for the rescue students to recover me. This was where I really fell in love with the underwater world – sitting still in calm silence for up to 45 minutes, breathing steadily through my regulator, looking up at the sun shining through the kelp at the surface of the water. If you are still enough, the animals start treating you like part of their environment and will swim right up to you. I was so lucky to start my scuba career exploring the kelp forests in California, a truly remarkable habitat. Through years of diving, I really started feeling a deep desire to understand how underwater habitats are formed, and the role of ecosystem engineers within them.

I eventually changed careers and started making my way up the corporate ladder, but never stopped reading and learning about marine biology and ecology. A couple of years ago, I decided that I wanted to do something more meaningful, so I quit my job and applied for grad school. I was so lucky to be accepted into IMBRSea’s program for marine resource management, and feel so lucky to now be interning for KSLOF as a part of my education!

What We Learned: Collaboration with Local Communities has the Biggest Impact on Reef Conservation

Written by

On the Global Reef Expedition, we prioritized using a collaborative approach to study and map coral reefs by partnering with scientific and local experts in each of the countries we visited. While the scientific team was conducting surveys underwater, we also implemented various outreach and education programs in parallel to improve ocean literacy and inspire the next generation of ocean advocates. The partnerships we formed allowed us to exchange knowledge and learn how local communities were using and managing their marine resources.

One of the biggest take-aways from the GRE was that nearly every community we worked with expressed, and continues to express, the want and need for conservation of their reef systems. Working directly with communities, sharing findings, using our education and outreach programs, and expanding on the current management efforts has proven to be the most successful in conserving the reefs visited on the GRE.

Watch the season finale of Our Living Oceans!

Written by

Tune into EarthxTV tonight to watch the season finale of Our Living Oceans!

Our Living Oceans is a documentary series that explores the health of our living oceans, the threats they face, and what is being done to save them through conversations with scientists, conservationists, and local leaders from around the world. The Khaled bin Sultan Living Oceans Foundation is proud to partner with EarthX to produce this remarkable series.

This week’s episode focuses on Ocean Optimism. In it, we share success stories of ocean conservation and the hope we have for preserving our oceans for the use and enjoyment of current and future generations. This episode features the renowned marine biologist and coral conservationist Dr. Nancy Knowlton, one of the founders of the #OceanOptimism movement. She talks about what gives her hope for our ocean’s future. This episode also features Her Deepness, Dr. Sylvia Earle, talking about how a TED prize made it possible for her to launch Mission Blue and create a global network of Hope Spots to help protect our living oceans. The season finale also includes our Education Director, Amy Heemsoth, who discusses the education and outreach work we did on the Global Reef Expedition and how the Living Oceans Foundation continues to inspire the next generation of ocean advocates.

A Coral’s Community

Written by

Coral reefs are majestic undersea wonders that contain some of the most unique and mysterious creatures I have ever observed. Ever since my first encounter with one while snorkeling, the natural awe and intrigue I feel in the presence of these incredible ecosystems has never left me. Throughout my education I have learned about the biology, the functions, and the benefits of coral reefs, and the natural and anthropogenic activities that threaten them. But it wasn’t until I started teaching about coral reefs on the Global Reef Expedition (GRE) that I truly understood the interconnectedness between people and the reefs. It was an insight gained not through a textbook, but, rather, from listening to, speaking with, and directly engaging those whose lives—and livelihoods—are impacted by coral reefs.

During the GRE Fiji mission, we launched our first large-scale education and outreach program that coincided with the scientific research taking place. Before we could proceed, however, we first needed to meet with the chiefs of the local villages to discuss our scientific and educational objectives, as well as seek their approval to continue in our mission. With the helpful guidance of our local liaisons and education partners, Roko Josefa Cinavilakeba and Laitia Raloa, we were able to have fruitful discussions with the chiefs of each village, after which the science team was granted permission to continue in their research. The education team, after continued discussions with the chief and other community members, were able to establish a schedule for coral reef education seminars for the schools and local communities.

Education & Outreach in the Solomon Islands

Written by

In addition to science, education and outreach are important components of conservation. That is why on many of the missions of the Global Reef Expedition (GRE), we used a three-pronged approach: science, education, and outreach. While on the Solomon Islands Expedition, the education team provided land-based education seminars throughout the Western, Choiseul, Isabel, and Temotu Provinces at schools and communities.

These educational efforts were conducted in partnership with local Solomon’s representatives from the Government of the Solomon Islands, a local Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) called OceansWatch, and local cultural liaisons. During the mission, schools were either taking exams or on holiday break, so the majority of the seminars were provided to communities where men, women, and children attended the talks. Overall, the Foundation conducted 4 school and 25 community seminars and 4 ship tours reaching a total of 2,891 people. This was the greatest number of people reached on any of the GRE missions.