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Ocean Initiative marine biologists Erin Ashe and Rob Williams with their daughter Clara and their dog on their research vessel. (Oceans Initiative Photo)
Researchers who run the Seattle-based Ocean Initiative often use their marine animal expertise to research endangered killer whales or preserve white-sided dolphins in Washington’s Puget Sound.
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But the country’s grip on the new coronavirus and the closure of their 6-year-old daughter’s school prompted them this week to launch what they called a Virtual Marine Biology Camp.
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“We thought it might be fun for our community to be able to hang out online and talk about whales and dolphins and other marine life,” said Erin Ashe, the nonprofit’s executive director and scientist.
Without technical support or a communications team, Ashe and her husband, Rob Williams, the agency’s chief researcher, used the tools at their disposal. They livestream their camp on Facebook and Instagram, and answer questions posted before and during the session.
Whale researchers with a doctorate often admit that they are not professional teachers or TV producers, but they are excited about the opportunity to share information about the Northwest Territories and help children feel more connected to nature, no matter where they live.
“Our community has really stepped up and real teachers are sending us tips,” Williams said, while others gave tips on how to set up their cameras to get the best results. “People help us fill the space while the kids are at home.”
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With their first success, Ashe and Williams hope to host the camp every Monday and Thursday at 11.00 PST to help families spend time while children are out of school due to the coronavirus.
Upcoming shipments include a conversation with an Ocean’s Initiative researcher who studies killer whales to see if it contains parasites that can make the region’s weary killer whales sick. They will hire a shark expert to join them next week. He plans to talk to another wildlife photographer who uses photography to find unique, identifying features of marine life to count and track humans. The researchers want to help children think about how they can use this tool to draw cats and dogs.
In their daily work, Ashe and Williams will conduct research to help inform Governor Orca’s killer whale community. Jay Inslee. They have published scientific articles examining the effects of boat noise on killer whales and their ability to hunt fish. A non-profit organization has learned about the accidental killing or “capture” of porpoises by local dolphins in salmon nets. Furthermore, the organization helped to develop affordable animal counting tools that can be used in poor countries for population counting.
Researchers are happy to collaborate more through day camps. Williams is already thinking about equipping their research boat with a camera that can capture what’s going on in the field.
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“It would be a lot of fun to look for whales and dolphins out in the Salish Sea,” Williams said, using the name to refer to inland waters that stretch from Puget Sound to British Columbia.
For children and adults everywhere, he said, “it would be fun to watch in real time, this is what a day in the life of a marine biologist looks like.”
The researchers are pleased with the positive response from their camp. Through this, Ashe said that he has a new understanding of how difficult it is to be a teacher. Hundreds of researchers around the world have asked the International Marine-Mammalogy Association to oppose unpaid positions such as internships and professional positions, and claimed that they will not paid. work creates barriers to diversity and inclusion in the event.
The petition, signed by 727 marine mammal researchers and others, was sent to the Society for Marine Mammalogy (SMM) in July, asking society to change its rules “to make it clear that all marine science workers should be paid for their work.” their “and to ban all advertising on the website for unpaid internships. The petition circulated for about a month on Twitter and on the marine animal science community, MARMAM.
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This request has sparked a heated discussion on the list server and elsewhere about the importance of unpaid work and diversity in science. Charles Littnan, the group’s president, says his board will wait until the case is decided before considering whether to add more guidance on pay and diversity to human rights. Littnan said: “We feel that this request is very important. He said that membership is being discussed this month.
Some unpaid positions in marine mammal research have specific requirements for field-based research; of these are full-time internships lasting several months in remote locations. But the issues the proposal addresses, including how unpaid positions reduce the diversity of young researchers regardless of level, are common. Data are not available on the number of unpaid positions in all scientific fields worldwide, but it is assumed to be high. The petitioners note that large US marine science and conservation agencies – including the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the wildlife organization WWF – employ unpaid workers.
A 2014 report from the Royal Society of London found that researchers and researchers with better economic backgrounds were more likely to enter the scientific community and achieve professional success.
The SMM application was prepared by Eiren Jacobson, an ecologist at the University of St Andrews, UK; Margaret Siple, a marine biologist at the University of California, Santa Barbara; and Chloe Malinka, a zoophysiologist at Aarhus University in Denmark. They said the idea for the petition came from #ShutDownSTEM and #ShutDownAcademia which came from the Black Lives Matter movement. Researchers and researchers around the world went on strike on June 10 to protest racism. White researchers and academics were asked to think quietly about what they could do to end racism. The organizers of the three petitions said that the petition is the answer to this question.
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Young researchers in marine pattelogy are expected to have one or two unpaid internships to qualify for master’s studies, says Siple. Students who have to pay for their education, or who have families to support themselves, are exempt from punishment because they cannot afford to work without pay, the organizers say.
All three organizers of the appeal will act as unpaid. Malinka’s food and accommodation were provided when she did a three-month study in Europe in 2011, and the non-financial assistance was the only reason she could work without pay, she says. But not everyone can afford it: “If you have a dependent family, you can’t afford it,” says Siple (see “Finding a Workplace That Works”).
The organizers wanted their SMM proposal to reach more than researchers who had traveled in unpaid positions. “We asked people to sign a petition that they were thinking of working in marine animal science and that they could not participate because of it,” Jacobson said.
Those in other scientific disciplines also responded to the request, said Eric Archer, a marine biologist at NOAA’s Southwest Fisheries Science Center in La Jolla, California, who chairs SMM’s Diversity and Inclusion Committee. “I have received emails from people who are not in the Marines reconsidering their positions. It has made people think about where this problem must go.”
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The request triggered discussion and disagreement about MARMAM listserv, which has many members of SMM. Phillip Clapham, a zoologist who recently retired from the NOAA Alaska Fisheries Science Center in Seattle, Washington, says that the eight to nine months of unpaid work in a small non-profit organization after his studies were worth a lot in his work. He began the work of entering whale data, and a few months later he helped collect data. He later joined the research team.
“We all want to have enough money to be able to give at least a living wage to smart young people,” says Clapham. But he adds that small non-profit organizations often can not afford to pay employees. If wages are legal, he says, opportunities like the one that transformed him – from a young man who travels the world to save money from restaurant jobs and a small inheritance to a dedicated scientist – will disappear.
Auriel Fournier, an ornithologist at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, said researchers do not hear much about people who do not do well in science. “People who miss out on these ‘opportunities’ are underrepresented in conversations” about unpaid work, “says Fournier, who has been writing about the case for years and co-authored a 2019 study on unpaid work and access to scientific work.
. Successful researchers talk about how they benefited from unpaid work, he says, but we hear less from people who are forced to leave science because they can not afford unpaid work, he adds.
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Fournier was there
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