A Creative Collaborative Approach to Engaging Non-traditional Audiences About Seamount Ecosystem Diversity

Mandy Leith, Ocean Networks Canada, Victoria, BC, Canada, Kim Juniper, University of Victoria, School of Earth and Ocean Sciences, Victoria, BC, Canada, Martin Scherwath, University of Victoria, Ocean Networks Canada, Victoria, BC, Canada and Leslie Elliott, Ocean Networks Canada, Communications, Victoria, BC, Canada
Seamounts are extinct underwater volcanoes that are still largely under-explored. In July 2018, a collaborative expedition to explore these fragile ecosystems in the northeast Pacific used a creative, innovative outreach approach to successfully educate and engage the public about the need to protect these biodiversity hotspots.

This exciting expedition brought together a diversity of partners, with their respective audiences: government, scientific research, non-profit advocacy, First Nations, state-of-the-art ocean exploration technology and science communications. Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Ocean Networks Canada, Oceana Canada and the Haida Nation worked together onboard Ocean Exploration Trust’s Exploration Vessel EV Nautilus to engage traditional and non-traditional audiences in the live excitement and challenge of discovering colourful abundant marine life, some of which was new to science.

Here we present the innovative and creative ways that the expedition partners used communications tools and methods to successfully broaden the public understanding of the scientific research taking place onboard an ocean expedition. Social media was used in conjunction traditional media coverage, daily videos, Facebook live, ship-to-shore connections with schools and museums, as well as in-person community events and school visits hosted by expedition partners. Highlights include the effective use of a single hashtag to aggregate the conversation; creative Twitter engagement—with a reach of 2.47 million—humanizing the onboard scientists and explaining the science with facts, photos, video and humour; public events on Haida Gwaii which provided the local community a first glimpse of their ancestral underwater territory; and livestreaming to 213,000 unique viewers in 130 countries.