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Dr. Ayana Elizabeth Johnson is a marine biologist, policy expert, former Executive Director of the Waitt Institute, and independent consultant currently in residence at TED. Johnson builds bridges between science, policy, and people, so we can use natural resources without using them up. Find her at @ayanaeliza on Twitter.

Hey Developers, Wanna Make an App to Help the Ocean?

We have a lot of data about the ocean, but much of it is in obscure databases – unintegrated, unanalyzed, and largely inaccessible for the public. There is so much we could do with all that information if it was easy to visualize and interpret. At our fingertips, we could have alerts about the presence…

Reframing Ocean Conservation in this Post-Election Era

Given the election, it seems wise to relinquish expectations of US federal leadership on ocean or climate policy. Our anti-science (among other deeply concerning antis) president-elect and his appointees have sent clear signals about their disregard for our environment and the ethos of sustainability. Yet, a healthy ocean is critical to food security, a stable…

Solving Humanity’s Grand Challenges Requires a Healthy Ocean

Human well-being and human rights are inextricably tied to the health of the ocean, yet ocean conservation work is often isolated. Last month, as the United National General Assembly focused on tackling the grand challenges represented by the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), both the ocean goal (aka Goal 14, “Life Under Water”) and me, as…

U.S. Ocean Leadership: Getting from 1% to 30% Marine Protection

The U.S. Department of State is set to host the third annual Our Ocean conference this week. This gathering of political leaders, philanthropists, scientists, diplomats, NGO executives, filmmakers, and private sector leaders, will be focused on the themes of marine protected areas, climate change, sustainable fisheries, and marine pollution. Many of us in the ocean…

Top 15 Ocean Conservation Wins of 2015

Overfishing, climate change, habitat destruction, and pollution remain major threats to the world’s ocean. But amidst all that there is some seriously good ocean conservation news worth celebrating. So, to continue the tradition started last year with listing 14 Ocean Conservation Wins of 2014, here’s a rundown for 2015 that will hopefully fill you with…

Saving Coral Reefs Requires Halting Climate Change

Local conservation efforts are important to restoring and protecting coral reefs. However, if we don’t halt climate change those efforts will not be enough to save them. That’s why marine biologists and ocean lovers have their eyes on the COP 21 climate negotiations in Paris this week. Last year, I co-authored a New York Times…

6 Lessons for Effective Science-based Ocean Conservation

Ocean conservation is hard. You fight the challenges of “out of sight, out of mind,” of largely unregulated high seas, and of waters so vast people find it hard to believe humans could actually overfish it (or as the saying goes in Jamaica, “fish can’t done”). The ocean is indeed in deep deep trouble due…

4 Steps to Improve Ocean Conservation Research in Small Island States

To be effective, marine conservation must be based on rigorous and targeted science. The large and growing threats to ocean ecosystems — overfishing, climate change, pollution, and habitat destruction — coupled with the limited scientific capacity of most small island states make science-based management not only an imperative, but also a challenge. Here’s one part…

Blue Guardians: A New Clinton Global Initiative Partnership

Two and a half years ago, the Waitt Institute launched the Blue Halo Initiative, through which we partner with governments and communities as they envision, design, and implement sustainable ocean management for their waters. In the time since, we supported the Caribbean island of Barbuda in passing meaningful legislation that zones the island’s entire coastal…

Fishers and Divers Agree Coral Reefs Need Stronger Management

Policy change, even at its most efficient, is often difficult and slow. This can be especially true for conservation policy, which often involves curtailing private sector business practices. On the flip side, the policymaking process can be sped up by clear public support. That’s why the recent consensus between the Caribbean fishing and SCUBA diving…

Ocean Education – Let the Games Begin

Co-authored by Stephanie Roach, Waitt Institute Program Manager The Waitt Institute team is made up of people who spent their childhoods playing at the beach, swimming in the calm turquoise Caribbean Sea, and learning about the amazing, diverse creatures that live beneath the surface. Each of us fell in love with the ocean at a young…

How Hosting an Edit-A-Thon Made Me Trust Wikipedia

The academic community has been wary of Wikipedia since it first came on the scene. Teachers have spent a decade warning their students not trust the online encyclopedia, concerned that because anyone can edit it, it might not be reliable. I’ll admit I first approached Wikipedia with caution, using it for quick reference but steering…

Why Ocean Conservationists Should Pay More Attention to Wikipedia

When the average internet user seeks out information on a scientific topic, the first place she turns to isn’t the latest scientific literature or even a mainstream news publication, it’s Wikipedia. Google any scientific topic and the online encyclopedia will turn up as the first or second search result. Though many within the science community…

Hope for Curaçao’s Corals and the Future of Journalism

When New York Times Dot Earth reporter Andrew Revkin got in touch with me seeking a documentary topic for the environmental journalism course he co-teaches at Pace University, he walked right into my trap. I rarely pass up an opportunity to twist someone’s arm to share optimistic stories of ocean conservation (#OceanOptimism!). Curaçao has some…

A First Impression of Montserrat, from Below the Surface

Dispatch from the field, by Waitt Institute Science Manager Andy Estep: If you’re a geology nerd like me, hearing of Montserrat makes you think “the Emerald Isle of the Caribbean, precariously perched on the Lesser Antilles Volcanic Arc along the eastern subduction zone of the Caribbean plate.” The incredible volcanology that has been forming and shaping…