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The Blog Aquatic

News, opinions, photos and facts from Ocean Conservancy

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Plight of Albatross Inspires Scientist to Clean Up Beaches

Posted On October 10, 2012 by

Albatross on Midway Atoll

Credit: Nick Mallos

How do scientists choose their life’s work? For avid surfer Nick Mallos, a love of the ocean made marine biology an easy choice. But it was a black-and-white bird with a 6-foot wingspan that inspired him to focus his research on marine debris and clean up as many beaches as he can.

Nick first encountered the Laysan albatross during a grad school research trip to Midway Atoll in the North Pacific. With over 450,000 nesting pairs, Midway Atoll is home to the largest Laysan population in the world. The birds cover the 2.4 square-mile area, nesting in every available nook, from abandoned WWII gun turrets to grassy cracks in the pavement.

But once you look beyond those birds, “you realize there’s this scattering of plastic over the entire island,” Nick says. “It’s impossible to not see plastic – it’s just everywhere. The most perverse part of it is that it’s most heavily concentrated around every nest.”

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How To Communicate Science in the 21st Century

Posted On July 2, 2012 by

Science communication has changed. If you know the tricks, you can be more effective than ever. Credit: flickr user Trondheim Byarkiv

Scientific inquiry is about the pursuit of knowledge to improve our world, so why is it so hard to communicate information that can help everyone? Actually, it doesn’t have to be – just follow these three steps I learned at the Science of Science Communication Colloquium:

1) Meet your audience where they are. It’s easy to assume the more someone knows about a scientific issue, the more they’ll care about it. However, there’s little empirical evidence to support this theory. Other factors, such as age, education, political party, religion, etc., may influence a person more than their understanding of an issue. You can help a person better understand a scientific concept, but unless you can appeal to their emotions or something they already care about, knowledge alone may not increase their support.

So, how does a scientist communicate effectively? Continue reading »

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