Future of Our Seas project update
Our Project Manager Olivia Gray shares an update on the ‘Blueprint – Future of Our Seas’ . Including Invisible Dust, Blueprint is a consortium of eight other major UK-leading marine research, engagement, advocacy and environmental arts organisations: Marine Biological Association; King’s College London; Joint Nature Conservation Committee; Sir Alister Hardy Foundation for Ocean Science; University of Plymouth Marine Institute; University of Edinburgh; Scottish Association for Marine Science and Incredible Oceans. This project is funded by NERC, the Natural Environment Research Council.
In June I attended a creative engagement workshop led by Dr Kris De Meyer, a neuroscientist and behaviour change specialist from King’s College London. It focused on how to effectively engage the public with scientific themes, and included a best practice workshop from Invisible Dust. After three fruitful days, it culminated with the trainees beginning to self-select topics and groups to develop engagement projects.
Image: Making connections – a workshop activity at the training weekend. © Invisible Dust
The seven teams of scientists then had six weeks to develop their projects. They were mentored through this interim development and planning phase by The Incredible Oceans team, Dr Raeanne Miller – Knowledge Exchange and Communications Manager at The Scottish Association for Marine Science – and yours truly!
So after six weeks I set off on an epic nine-hour trip to Oban on the west coast of Scotland to see what the teams had been up to. The events they had designed included programs aimed at raising awareness of themes including plastic pollution, ocean acidification, Scotland’s cold water corals, and the creatures found near hydrothermal vents. These were held in the fabulous Incredible Oceans tent over two days and attracted a large number of people.
Each team or event had one hour each day to deliver their project. The activities ranged from games, walks, film showings and immersive experiences, so the public could come back at different times and always find something new to engage with.
Image: Family activities at the Strandline Exploration table – one team’s activity during Oban Yacht Week. © SAMS/ Future of Our Seas.
We grappled with some bad weather, and some aggressive seagulls, but otherwise had a fantastic time. I for one learnt a lot about marine science and thoroughly enjoyed working with the scientists and the team. From the feedback we got, and the invitations we’ve had to take the initiative to other locations, it seems it had a very positive impact. Huge congratulations are due to the team for making the event such a success with their engaging, creative, fun, educational, immersive and generally fantastic events!
I’m now looking forward to having evaluation chats with each of the groups to discuss how they think it went, what they learnt, and what they might do differently in future.
Take a look at the full list of projects below. Thanks for reading, and be sure to check in soon for more news!
Beautifully Strange – an immersive installation exploring creatures from the deep sea around hydrothermal vents, in collaboration with textile artist Jessica Giannotti, Crùbag.
Cold Water Corals – a game revealing information about the corals off the coast of Scotland, and what they provide.
Natural Factory – put together different puzzles to discover how certain bacteria can be used to produce useful products.
Plastics and Acid – various activities related to plastic pollution in the oceans, and animal behaviour change caused by rising CO2 levels.
Sounds West Coast – a sound installation (made by playing seaweed) that explored ocean noise pollution.
Strandline Exploration – a chance to get out onto the beach and discover what creatures, and microplastics, you might find there.
Car cinema – a film about the destructive processes involved in car production, and how naturally occurring bacteria could be used in the future to produce car windscreens in a much more environmentally friendly way.