CaNOE’s Ocean People

People join CaNOE for a lot of reasons; one of the most popular is to meet like-minded ocean literacy advocates. Some of us are formal educators, some are informal, and some of us just want to be part of the effort to inspire and share a love of the ocean and to promote everyday personal actions that we can take to show that love.

At CaNOE we are fond of saying “We Are All Ocean people”.  And it’s true! We also think our members are great and we want to share your stories, If you’re interested in being featured on the CaNOE Members page, send us answers to these five questions with the title “Ocean People Profile”:

1.      What does Ocean Literacy mean to you?
2.      What first sparked your interest in or passion for the ocean?
3.      Tell us a bit about what you do in your ocean-related work and where you do it.
4.      What is one thing you wish everyone knew about the ocean?
5.      Name one fun fact about the ocean that most people probably don’t know.

We’ll also choose one member each month to “spotlight” as part of our monthly SPLASHmail newsletter (with their permission)! Not interested in sharing your info? No problem – we won’t be posting anything that hasn’t been sent to us specifically for that purpose. We’d love to get a photo as well (especially if it shows you doing something “oceany”!).

For member contact requests email us at info@oceanliteracy.ca


Jennifer MacLatchy

PhD Candidate, Dalhousie University

Halifax, NS

 

 

What does Ocean Literacy mean to you?
To me, ocean literacy means understanding how our everyday needs and actions affect and are affected by the ocean. It means understanding how entangled and interdependent we are with the ocean, even if we don’t live near it or have direct contact with it everyday.

What first sparked your interest in or passion for the ocean?
I think I’ve always been interested in the ocean, but becoming a kayak guide and spending more time on the ocean led me to become more interested in the things that I could observe around me, such as marine debris. Plastic pollution in the ocean is affecting every living thing, and it’s also really interesting to me because of the stories that all these plastic objects can tell about human cultures of consumerism and consumption in this anthropocene era.

Tell us a bit about what you do in your ocean-related work and where you do it.
I am working on an interdisciplinary PhD at Dalhousie University, focusing on the ways in which an art practice that engages with marine debris might be one way to change perspectives on this material. I collect marine debris and I document my collections in a series of photos that I call Ocean Treasures, and sometimes I use this material to make sculptures or other forms of art. By turning plastic pollution into something functional or beautiful, I hope to change the way people think about and enact caring towards the plastic objects that we use and discard every day.

What is one thing you wish everyone knew about the ocean?
One thing that I wish everyone knew about the ocean is how much our everyday actions affect it, even when we can’t directly see the effects.

Name one fun fact about the ocean that most people probably don’t know.
One fun fact about the ocean is that it can carry objects long distances on ocean currents. It’s interesting to think about how far objects can travel in the ocean, and to wonder about the individual journey of every single piece of plastic debris.

Photo credit: Carla-Marie Elliott


David Young

Biology and Marine Biology teacher
Victoria High School
Victoria, BC

 

What does Ocean Literacy mean to you?
To me it means learning about the many aspects of the worlds oceans as well as their ecosystems and the part we as humans play in our ecosystems. I enjoy learning about, and teaching my students about, the life forms that live on our local beaches and in our local waters – what are they? and how do they live their lives? ​ Years ago I developed an identification guide of local seaweeds and animals found on our shore line and I am pleased whenever I see families with their young children on the beach using these guides. I think teaching kids about our local waters is the first step to creating future stewards of our oceans.

What first sparked your interest in or passion for the ocean?
I grew up in Campbell River and spent a lot of time boating and at the beach with my family. When I was quite young my parents allowed me to walk down our bank, cross the highway and play in the tide pools all day – it was the 70s. I always enjoyed sea life and when I was 13 I converted my tropical aquarium into a tide pool aquarium. It was a lot of fun but when I stocked it with herring from a local bait dock I soon learned how effective the fish-eating anemones were.

Tell us a bit about what you do in your ocean-related work and where you do it.
I teach Biology and Marine Biology at Victoria High School in Victoria, British Columbia. I have a cold water seaquarium, touch table and kreisel aquarium with jellyfish in my class. My students use the cameras, some attached to microscopes, to take video and photos, and along with their research and art work we upload it to our web site at Vichigh Marine (www.vichighmarine.ca). The community has also been a great resource over the years, from the biologists at the local aquarium (the Shaw Centre for the Salish Sea), the Seaquaria in Schools program who helped set up my original system, to the people at Ocean Networks Canada who have visited my class and host an annual Ocean Symposium.

What is one thing you wish everyone knew about the ocean?
I’ve always enjoyed looking at plankton, from the elaborate structures of the glass encased diatoms to the unusual worms and larval stages of crabs with their glowing green eyes. I wish more people had the opportunity to look at the diversity of life found in a plankton tow. It is the base of the ocean food chains and produces so much of the oxygen we breathe – but we often overlook the small things.

Name one fun fact about the ocean that most people probably don’t know.
The Pacific Spiny Lumpsucker. I think most people appreciate tropical fish but we have one of the world’s most unusual and comical looking fish here in the Pacific Northwest. When you look at this fish it is hard to believe it would be the product of evolution: they are poor swimmers, are the shape of a small ball covered in conical bumps, and have a sucker disk made of modified pelvic fins they use to attach to rocks and seaweed. They also come in a variety of colours including bright orange, red, and brown.


Leah Robertson

STEAM (Science Technology Engineering Arts and Math) Facilitator
Discovery Centre
Halifax, NS

 

What does Ocean Literacy mean to you?
Ocean Literacy to me means creating opportunities and educating marine science in a way that everyone can learn, regardless of educational background.

What first sparked your interest in or passion for the ocean?
Growing up beside the ocean, studying marine biology always felt like a natural fit. However, it was my experiences during my undergraduate degree that really sparked my passion for the ocean. I had the
opportunity to complete multiple field courses in Bonne Bay, Newfoundland- in my biased opinion one of the most beautiful places on earth.

Tell us a bit about what you do in your ocean-related work and where you do it.
Currently, I work the Discovery Centre, a science museum in Halifax, Nova Scotia where I engage with the public and develop programming on any STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math) related
subjects- including helping with their Oceans Gallery slated to open this summer! Another project near and dear to my heart is the Back to the Sea Society, a non-profit with the goal of opening a catch-and-release aquarium. Within this organization I wear multiple hats from Communications Chair to working as an aquarist.

What is one thing you wish everyone knew about the ocean?
I wish everyone knew that they have the power to be an ocean hero! There are so many ways to contribute to ocean conservation from not using straws to supporting organizations that do great work, there is a way for everyone to help protect marine life for future generations.

Name one fun fact about the ocean that most people probably don’t know.
The deep-sea octopus Bathypolypus arcticus, which can be found off of Nova Scotia could have one of the longest egg incubation periods- up to three years!


Dawn Roche

Managing Editor
The Journal of Ocean Technology
Fisheries and Marine Institute of Memorial University
St. John’s, NL

What does Ocean Literacy mean to you?
To me, ocean literacy means understanding our connectedness with the oceans: how what we humans do impacts the oceans and the ocean’s effect on humans, and how we can share this information for the benefit of our planet.

What first sparked your interest in or passion for the ocean?
The ocean has always been a part of my life. Growing up on an island in the North Atlantic meant it was always there. It affects our weather; is a major transportation route on and off the island; and is a source of employment to many (fishery, tourism, research, etc.). I often visit our coastline to feel the ocean in my senses: watch the waves roll, hear them crash when they reach land, feel the briny water on my face, taste it on my lips, and smell the salted-laden air. These visits make me feel so alive! Our family has a “leave the city behind” cabin that faces an open cove. To start my day, I boil the kettle for a cup of tea and sit in a window seat to gauge the sea’s mood: from grey, roiling days to blue, sparkling days to fog-filled days. I don’t have any favourites: I appreciate each day that I get to observe the sea.

Tell us a bit about what you do in your ocean-related work and where you do it.
I work as editor for a journal on ocean technology in St. John’s, Newfoundland. We are an international publication and our focus crosses many ocean industries and sectors. For me, that means being in touch with ocean people around the globe: those working and researching in, on, or below the ocean. And everyone I meet has interesting work/research to share. The common thread with all our contributors is the way humans and oceans impact one another and how to use technology to address challenges and opportunities.

What is one thing you wish everyone knew about the ocean?
I’d like everyone to know how fantastic the ocean is to help keep things in perspective! Or how much it can open your senses and your mind. Or how it can help with creativity and provide an appreciation of our amazing resource. Or how wonderful it is to walk along the shoreline, jumping waves and beachcombing for natural objects. That’s more than one, I know!

Name one fun fact about the ocean that most people probably don’t know.
Maybe everyone already knows this, but I love the fact that flatfish such as flounder and halibut are born with an eye on each side of its head but eventually one of the eyes shift so that both eyes are on the same side. The scientists out there would explain this better than me! A non-scientific fact that I’d like to share is how the ocean can take your breath away: imagine cresting the top of a hill and seeing the open expanse of the ocean as far as your eyes can see. That is simply breath-taking!


Laura Verhegge

Lester B. Pearson College of
the Pacific

 

 

What does Ocean Literacy mean to you?
To me, ocean literacy is about how significant the ocean is to every human on the planet. In my teaching at Pearson College, I feel that I am able to convey that message to students who come from coastal communities as well as land-locked places, students who have lived their lives beside the ocean and students who have never seen the ocean before. When students leave after two years of Marine Science, they get it.

What first sparked your interest in or passion for the ocean?
In the summer after my third year at the University of Calgary where I was pursuing a degree in Zoology in order to get into medical school, I went to the Bamfield Marine Station (BMS as it was called then!). I signed up for ‘Marine Invertebrate Zoology’ and looking back now, I have no idea why since I despised the Invertebrate Zoology course I took at U of C (our labs involved looking at various preserved invertebrates that were colourless and smelled of formaldehyde!). During my second day in Bamfield, I remember going to Brady’s Beach and seeing nudibranchs, anemones, crabs, mussels, barnacles and other colourful creatures in tidepools and on rocks and I was so excited. I think it was that field trip to Brady’s Beach that did it for me! And after that Marine Invertebrate Zoology course, I forgot about medicine and I knew that I wanted to be a marine biologist.

Tell us a bit about what you do in your ocean-related work and where you do it.
I teach IB Marine Science at Lester B. Pearson UWC of the Pacific and I think I have the best job in the world. Today one of my classes included a deep sea costume party where students
dressed up as a deep sea creature and had to make guesses about the costumes of other students – fun!
The syllabus that I teach is full of opportunities for practical work and because Pearson College is located
on the shores of Pedder Bay, we visit as many marine ecosystems as possible. Also, because Pearson
College is the ecoguardian of Race Rocks ecological reserve, we have the privilege of experiencing that
magical place.

What is one thing you wish everyone knew about the ocean?
How connected we all are to the ocean and that every day decisions can affect the ocean.

Name one fun fact about the ocean that most people probably don’t know.
Since I am teaching about deep sea organisms now, they are on my mind, and they are so bizarre. Here is a fun fact: the barreleye fish has a transparent head that allows it to look up and collect as much light as possible in the disphotic / twilight zone. The default position for the barreleye’s eyes is up but they can rotate their eyes to look forward as necessary!


Elaine Leung

Dr. Elaine Leung’s first real job after high school was studying sea lions. She fell in love with marine biology and never looked back. Fifteen years later, her research has taken her to some of the most remote places in the world, including Antarctica, Alaska, Hawaii, NZ, and all over BC. Dr. Leung’s research focused on reducing impacts to threatened species. She created Sea Smart to share her knowledge and passion for our oceans with youth; inspiring hope in youth that they can make a positive difference with environmental problems. Sea Smart’s mission is to get youth excited about our oceans and empower them to be environmental champions. Based in Vancouver, Sea Smart’s school workshops, after school programs, and summer camps teach youth about ocean issues and get them brainstorming solutions. Check out seasmartschool.com for more info.


Rob Keith

I’m a school administrator in Calgary, Alberta invested in taking students on Ocean Learning adventures in the Salish Sea for 20+ years, primarily with SEA Programs Inc..  I’m also a Cruise and Learn sailing instructor in my spare time with Island Cruising in Sidney BC.  As a  lifelong sailor, I’m passionate about Ocean Education; I truly enjoy introducing young people to marine science and ecology.