Forums and Reports
The Aquarium of the Pacific and the Southern California Wetlands Recovery Project hosted a half-day forum for zoos, aquaria, museums, and other educational organizations in the Southern California region to discuss wetland and watershed education and outreach.
Literally millions of people use these Southern California institutions each year, and there is a need to explore how all these organizations might work collaboratively to maximize the effectiveness of important messages about these issues. The forum resulted in stimulating and productive discussions where the participating institutions shared their experiences and ideas on wetland and watershed education outreach.
As part of the national Conference on Ocean Literacy (CoOL), the Aquarium of the Pacific hosted a simultaneous event in Long Beach, California.
The California conference brought together 119 participants representing academia, aquariums, museums, science centers, media, federal and state government officials and staff, industry, non-profit organizations, foundations, and other stakeholders with an interest in environmental literacy. Attendees discussed the essential principles of ocean literacy; suggested strategies for achieving ocean literacy; and outlined the current challenges and opportunities facing the nation and California for educating school children and the general public to make informed and responsible decisions about the ocean and its resources.
The average American has little knowledge of ocean and coastal ecosystems and how we humans affect them. And the gap between science and the public is increasing. It is clear that our oceans are in trouble and that any effective efforts to restore and protect them must be rooted in strong support by a well-informed public.
This has been the driving force for placing a much higher priority on public ocean education at the Aquarium of the Pacific. This theme of ocean awareness and literacy will be an integral component of both existing and future exhibits and programs inside and outside the Aquarium. The public’s ocean awareness, literacy, and stewardship must increase if we are to make strides in protecting and conserving our marine resources.
In the past several years a number of reports about the ocean and its problems and surveys on environmental literacy have pointed out that while people love the ocean, many neither know much about it nor believe that their actions affect its health.
The U.S. Commission on Ocean Policy (USCOP) and the Pew Oceans Commission reports state a need to broaden ocean education and awareness at all levels of society from pre-schoolers to senior citizens so that, whether they live on the coast or in middle America, all will understand the impact the ocean has on them and the impact they have on the ocean. The goal—an “ocean literate” public. Ocean literacy is defined by the National Science Foundation’s Centers for Ocean Sciences Education Excellence (COSEE) and the National Marine Educators Association (NMEA) as “understanding the ocean’s influence on you and your influence on the ocean”. What ocean science does the public need to know and understand and what are the best strategies and methods for turning the science into messages and stories that make it not only memorable and understandable to the audience, but also result in stewardship of the ocean?
This report summarizes the results of a workshop held at the Aquarium of the Pacific. The workshop was held in response to the call for greater ocean literacy by the U.S. Commission on Ocean Policy (USCOP) report, the U.S. Ocean Action Plan, and the Pew Oceans Commission report.
In the past several years, a number of reports and research papers have pointed out that while people love the ocean, they neither know much about it, nor believe that their actions affect its health. That is, they are not “ocean literate.” It was also pointed out that there is a need to develop ocean education programs targeted not only at the formal education sector, but also at the general public—from pre-schoolers to senior citizens.
A watershed is defined as a specific land area that drains water into a river system or other body of water. The prominent cities in Southern California would not be located where they are today were it not for the Los Angeles and San Gabriel Rivers and the fertile soil around its watersheds.
For centuries these rivers were the sole source of water for its inhabitants. The rivers’ water not only helped make Los Angeles County and Orange County two of the richest agriculture regions in the nation, but also shaped its image as the “Southern California Eden”. Today however, the images of our watersheds contradict its importance to the history and development of this region.