December 28, 2010

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by Charlotte Vick,
SEAlliance Interactive Partnership Coordinator

Google Ocean’s 2010 has been a year of outreach, new ideas and solidifying partnerships. We are very pleased that hundreds of new stories have been added to the Explore the Ocean layer in Google Earth this year. Through mid-December, we have now trained nearly 1,500 people to add stories to that layer. Our original posting partners continue to find time to volunteer their content and new contributors hold the promise of even more. 

In addition to our continued recruitment and training via email, telephone and social media, we reached out through personal appearances at a wide variety of venues including educational institutions, dive shows, conferences, environmental and ocean meetings introducing audiences of all ages to the Ocean in Google Earth.

The following are month-by-month targeted activity highlights.

Charlotte Vick, Anchorage, Alaska
In January, we headed north to Alaska for presentations to scientists and educators gathered in Anchorage, at a symposium sponsored by the North Pacific Research Board and the Center for Ocean Sciences Education Excellence. Over 300 people attended the Google Ocean keynote presentation, and more than 150 people attended a training session on how to use the Ocean layer in Google Earth, in order to create their own stories in the Explore the Ocean layer.
In February, research began on a very long list of potential Hope Spots. The Sargasso Sea near Bermuda had been under discussion as a Hope Spot for over a year and was sure to be on the list. As a result, workshops and presentations were held for Bermudian contributors and students at the Bermuda Aquarium, Museum and Zoo in February, in conjunction with meetings involving the Bermuda Government, IUCN, Dr. Sylvia Earle and her foundation, the Marine Conservation Biology Institute and Stanford University’s Center for Ocean Solutions.
March began with the final selection of 18 Hope Spots and a concerted outreach effort to tap both current and new posting partners to create Hope Spot stories in the Explore the Ocean layer. In preparation for the Mission Blue Voyage in the first week of April, we had just one month to develop at least a few stories for each Hope Spot, as well as create and finish a new foundation website. Steve Miller, formerly Product Manager of Google Ocean and a very dedicated volunteer, developed a state-of-the-art website for Mission Blue that integrated the Explore the Ocean layer in Google Earth and new search tools, just in time for the Mission Blue Voyage to the Galapagos. This enabled visitors to search for and tour stories about Hope Spots from the Explore the Ocean layer in Google Earth from the Mission Blue website.
April continued to focus on outreach for Hope Spot content with partner organizations, while outreach for other high priority areas was also conducted. As an example, an important workshop and training session was held for the West Coast National Marine Sanctuary managers at Google’s Mountain View headquarters. Protocols for working with this division of NOAA were established and we hope to initiate similar efforts with other NMS regions in 2011.

In the aftermath of the Gulf of Mexico oil spill; most of the month of May was spent working with partners to create Google Ocean stories about what was endangered by the spill. However, previously planned presentations and training were still provided in tandem with our partner ARKive at the International Wildlife Film Festival in Missoula, Montana and at the River Rally in Snowbird, Utah for future partners and contributors.

Philippe, Cousteau Jr. and Charlotte Vick, 
San Francisco World Oceans Day

Capitol Hill Oceans Week, the National Geographic Explorers Symposium and other Washington, DC meetings dominated the agenda in June where we met with existing and potential partners. In these meetings Jenifer Austin-Foulkes, Google’s Product Manager for Ocean in Google Earth, joined us.

The first half of July was focused on outreach to partners working on the Gulf Coast including the Gulf Restoration Network, Marine Environmental Research Institute and the Turtle Island Restoration Network. In mid-July meetings in Chesapeake, VA meetings were also held regarding the Elizabeth River Project, which opened doors for future collaborations. The month ended with the annual Hawaii Conservation Alliance meeting, which was attended by Hawaii partners and Pacific region representatives.

Kip Evans & Dr. Sylvia Earle accepting the award for
Best non-broadcast Documentary, Blue Ocean Film Festival

With support from a Pew grant administered in Palau, in early August, we provided several days of workshops for Micronesian Community College leaders, students and key NOAA personnel at the University of Hawaii’s Kewalo Basin Marine Laboratory. Maui Google Ocean contributor Marty Wolff joined a day of sessions and contributed his photography to enable Micronesian participants to create Hope Spot stories for their home islands in the Micronesian. This example holds promise for work with other Hope Spots and will be pursued further in 2011. By late August, we were engrossed in the Blue Ocean Film Festival. That event provided the year’s best opportunity for outreach to existing and potential partners. Google, represented by Jenifer Austin-Foulkes, sponsored two award categories and hosted a reception that several people commented on as the “ocean film industry’s networking event of the year.” Many of our partners and Google Ocean contributors were represented in the films screened at Blue, and several were nominated for awards. Among our contributors winning awards was Kip Evans whose film Isla Holbox was created as the first in a series of films to highlight the importance of Hope Spots.

September outreach and meetings during the California and the World Ocean Conference in San Francisco was greatly assisted by Google Ocean co-founder and Mission Blue board member John Hanke. John’s opening keynote presentation opened a number of opportunities for future collaboration. September also marked a major posting milestone when the Smithsonian Institution surpassed National Geographic as our most prolific posting partner with over 200 posts in the Explore the Ocean layer in Google Earth, which is linked to their awesome Ocean Portal. We are aware that National Geographic is working on new content, so watch for future updates. Later in September, outreach began on the East Coast with several outreach and training sessions in Savannah, Georgia and Annapolis, Maryland.

In October, WildScreen, the biennial international film festival held in England’s coastal city of Bristol, afforded opportunities to reach potential contributors and partners from outside the United States. At the festival Google’s Jenifer Austin-Foulkes presented an award in the category she judged and our four training sessions were filled with existing and potential new contributors.

L to R: Adelaide Bauman-Polk, Colette Bennett, Jennifer Hayes, 

Sylvia Earle, Dan Bennett, Milbry Polk,and David Doubilet

Outreach efforts in November were primarily on the Atlantic coast, and included those attending the International Sea Bean Symposium in Cocoa Beach, FL and the volunteers of Brevard County Florida’s Turtle Preservation Society. New England was also prominent due to initial meetings with University of Rhode Island, the Blue Ocean Institute, Mystic Seaport and key ocean advocates in Delaware. Mystic Seaport honored Dr. Sylvia Earle with their “America and the Sea” Award at a NYC gala. Focus on historic ocean stories in 2011 will include some stories from Mystic Seaport.

December planning has targeted more content relating to expeditions, the Atlantic Coast and Hope Spots. New initiatives and planning for the Ocean in Google Earth in 2011 have also been a high priority. We are looking at ways to integrate international and multi-lingual content into the Explore the Ocean layer and possibly others in the year ahead. We’re also hoping to create some wonderful new tools for our partners.

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