November 30, 2022
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.
November 10, 2022
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...
November 10, 2022
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 …
November 3, 2022
The sun is blazing intensely in a cloudless sky, and the lack of a breeze makes the sulfur, rotten egg-like smell even more intense. It feels like 95°F (35°C) and I am sweating profusely as I trudge through the mangroves, one of my favorite marine ecosystems. It feels like home to me.
After two and a half years of putting the J.A.M.I.N. program on hold, I am quickly reminded how much I missed not only teaching and interacting with students face-to-face, but also being in the mangroves. The same feelings happen to me every time I venture into this amazing ecosystem: feelings of curiosity, awe, and respect, mixed with a sense of calm tranquility. And it is these same kinds of feelings we hope to foster in our students while they participate in our program...
November 1, 2022
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.
October 27, 2022
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...
October 25, 2022
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.
October 20, 2022
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.
October 18, 2022
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.
October 6, 2022
As the sun begins to rise over the island ridges of Lana’i, Hawai’i, the drone lifts off from its landing pad on the beach and begins to fly a grid along the coast, imaging the nearshore coral reefs. The drone is being flown by Dr. Ved Chirayath from the University of Miami Rosenstiel School of Marine, Atmospheric, and Earth Science’s Aircraft Center for Earth Studies (ACES). Ved has pioneered a new approach to mapping reefs using drones equipped with fluid lensing technology. While this cutting-edge technology is capturing reefs by air, the need for in-water validation of those images and census of marine life is critical to understanding the status of this coral reef ecosystem. And that is where my expertise comes into play.
I have been surveying reefs all over the world for the past 10 years, and I am excited to be putting my skill set to use again in the field. Traditional underwater surveys of both the benthic and fish communities, combined with drone surveys, gives the most detailed information regarding the health of the coral reef ecosystem...