Science Literacy Week (September 16-22, 2019) inspires Canadians of all ages to read more about science and to help foster a strong STEM culture across the country. This year’s theme, Oceans, encourages Canadians of all ages to discover more about the importance of our world’s oceans, our impact on them, and what we can do to appreciate and help marine wildlife.
To celebrate, we’re featuring a few of our amazing workshop presenters who have career and education experience in marine biology and ocean studies. In this blog post, Alysse, a Marine Biologist and Scientists in School Backyard Bugs presenter in our East Central Ontario Region, talks about her fascinating research and offers suggestions on how families can engage together in the important conversation about our world’s oceans.
Can you tell us more about your research in microplastics and its impact on marine life?
During my Bachelor of Science (BSc) in Marine Biology and Oceanography at Dalhousie University, I completed an Honours research project where I studied the concentration of microplastics (plastics with a diameter less than 5 cm) in marine sediments as well as in wild and farmed blue mussels. I found plastics in all of my samples, and I published my research in a scientific journal called Marine Pollution Bulletin. During my BSc I became passionate about spreading awareness about the amazing life that lives in the oceans, and protecting it from human interference such as pollution, shipping, and over-fishing.
What lead you down this path? What fascinated you about oceans?
I originally chose to study Marine Biology in university because it sounded interesting! Soon after I began university, I fell in love with ocean studies. I learned about incredible survival tactics of marine life, the ways the oceans circulate and regulate climate, and the harm humans are causing to the delicate, yet incredibly resilient ocean environment. I became passionate about sharing my knowledge and doing what I can to protect marine life through spreading awareness, changing my lifestyle to pollute less, and developing my career in aquatic conservation.
Why is it important to get children and youth excited about and interested in our world’s oceans?
Life in the oceans is fascinating! Every child should get the opportunity to learn about what exists under the sea. Children are naturally drawn to marine life. The more they know, the more passionate they will feel about ensuring those lives continue on for generations. There is an incredible amount to learn about the oceans.
What can educators and parents/guardians do to cultivate a stronger interest in our world’s oceans in children and youth?
Take children to aquariums and places where they can see life in the oceans first hand—and of course, invite Scientists in School to their classroom or community group!
Adults and children can also talk about how humans impact the ocean in various ways. This could include talking about where the water from our homes goes once it goes down the drain, talking about all of the food, clothing and appliances that come from overseas by shipping, and discussing the importance of purchasing seafood that has been sourced in a sustainable way. Families can also talk about how burning fossil fuels has warmed ocean temperatures and changed the chemistry by making the oceans more acidic. These changes to the ocean environment can make it hard for many animals to survive.