2015 was Schmidt Ocean Institute’s busiest year with more ship tours, presentations and remote ship-to-shore connections than ever before. We relish the opportunity to bring teachers, students, and the public along on our exploration of the ocean. They became part of our journey, and we are able to share the experience of history-making research in classrooms and people’s homes. It is this type of outreach that truly inspires the next generation of scientists to continue exploring and conserving our oceans. Several new education initiatives were undertaken in 2015 including the Student Opportunities Program, to further enhance our connection and reach, continuing our goal of sharing cutting-edge science.
This year Schmidt Ocean Institute gave 37 community and conference presentations to over 3,000 people in nine different countries. We also opened up Falkor to the communities in which she sailed in, offering 20 educational tours for over 400 people. During the Unlocking Tsunami Secrets expedition a special effort was made to provide ship tours, classroom visits and presentations in both Singapore and Indonesia. Through a dedicated outreach tour, Schmidt Ocean Institute was able to participate in 11 bi-lingual community events, reaching over 1,730 students, government officials, and community participants. We also remotely reached an additional 6,352 students in 157 classrooms through ship-to-shore connections from Falkor. Scientists and crew were able to obtain a new record during the Magnetic Anomolies at the World’s Largest Volcano cruise, connecting with over 4,000 students in 90 ship-to-shore connections through a partnership with the Texas State Aquarium. Not only were we able to reach elementary, high school, and college classes this year, but we also shared our science with the public through remote connections with Exploratorium, Texas State Aquarium, Florida State Aquarium, ExplorOcean, Hatfield Marine Science Center and Smithsonian Natural History Museum, amongst other locations. Additionally, analysis of data collected on Falkor was disseminated by collaborating science parties producing 72 academic publications and presentations in 2015, including contributions towards three graduate student’s dissertations.
Schmidt Ocean Institute’s online presence continues to grow as evidenced by the 82,664 new visitors to our website, a 32% increase from last year and the 409,000 page views our site received. This year we have been developing a new website, which will provide a more user-friendly and interactive interface. The new site is scheduled to launch in early 2016 and will have new publication and cruise search features, as well as a media library. During this undertaking we have also made real-time cruise tracking and data available, as well as a language translation app. Our dedicated team of multimedia
journalists offer daily blog updates on our cruises by working with our science parties to share the stories from sea. This year we focused on providing weekly video blog updates and shared 165 science blogs, a 66% increase from last year. Several of our cruises were featured on the AGU Blogosphere, and for the first time we offered a contest so that audiences could participate in predicting where new hydrothermal vents would be found. We continue to actively interact with the community through our social media accounts, increasing followers on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube. Schmidt Ocean Institute received 347,609 page views on Facebook, 388,800 on Twitter, and 114,519 on Google Plus, indicating a 3,000% increase in traffic this year. Our YouTube page also received attention when Falkor shared live HD video streams of ROV dives during research cruises in the Timor Sea and in Perth Canyon.
In 2015, Schmidt Ocean Institute received over 220 news media stories in international and national television, radio, print, and web publications. We were also proud to be featured this year as the Editor’s Choice top Five Stand-Outs in the in the Marine Technology Reporter’s annual Top 100 innovators in the maritime industry. Additionally, the Hawaii-based All Things Marine radio show partnered with Schmidt Ocean Institute, broadcasting live from Falkor during four different research cruises. Falkor was also featured in a chapter of James Nestor’s book Deep, and in several television series including Voices of the Sea, North 23 Degrees, Animal Planet, and the documentary film Perspectives on Ocean Exploration.