Using ocean exploration to connect Pacific Island cultures with ocean science

Using ocean exploration to connect Pacific Island cultures with ocean science

Author: David McKinnie – National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, United States

Debi Blaney – National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
Atuatasi Lelei Peau – National Marine Sanctuary of American Samoa

From July 2015 to September 2017, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) conducted an ocean exploration campaign focused on exploring deep-water areas in the central and western Pacific Ocean. The ocean is integral to Pacific Islanders’ cultural identity and traditional values in the areas we explored. NOAA is a small U.S. federal agency that by itself could not have presented the results of our expeditions in ways relevant to local cultures, so we partnered at multiple levels with local and regional institutions to help identify needs and deliver results to both traditional leaders and western-style institutions.

To bridge traditional cultures and knowledge and ocean science using ocean exploration, NOAA and its partners collaborated to engage Pacific Island communities. We consulted with Pacific Island nation western and traditional governance leaders through partners based locally. We explained initial ocean exploration plans, sought advice and direction, asked about priorities, and requested endorsement of ocean exploration expeditions in the areas relevant to individual Pacific Island nations and jurisdictions. We followed expeditions with visits to share results, and to provide ocean exploration data, images, and other products to leaders, ocean resource managers, educators, and the public. With guidance from local partners, we used recent ocean exploration results to create new outreach and education products tailored for local populations. Engaging both western and traditional leadership helped to ensure ocean exploration results were shared in Pacific Island communities as widely as possible, to convey new findings in the context of Pacific Islanders’ rich traditional relationship with the ocean, and to make it more likely ocean exploration data would be used in ocean and protected area management decisions.

This paper will describe specifics of our engagement approach of relying on local partners to guide us in producing and communicating results in ways relevant to Pacific Island nations and peoples.

The author has not yet submitted a copy of the full paper.

Presentation type: Show, tell and talk
Theme: Society
Area of interest: Influencing policies through science communication