Aquariums, Zoos and Science Museums to Explore New Ways to Increase Understanding of the oceans: A Report on The Ocean Project and Its Recent National Survey

Bill Mott
The Ocean Project, 102 Waterman Street, Suite 16, Providence, RI 02906, email
Paul Boyle, Ph.D.
Widlife Conservation Society's New York Aquarium, Boardwalk and West 8th St, Brooklyn, NY 11224, tel. (718)265-3435,

People have an emotional and positive connection to the oceans yet express low levels of personal importance to protecting oceans. A collaborative, multi-year approach is required to cultivate substantive change in the way people understand, relate to and use the ocean.
The Ocean Project was created to take on this role and facilitate a paradigm shift both in
the way that people relate to the oceans and in the way educational institutions approach
connecting people to ocean conservation. The Ocean Project represents a new and unprec-edented public awareness effort among more than 75 aquariums, zoos and museums that together serve more than 100 million visitors a year. To lay the foundation for its future activities that will develop peoples' affinity for the oceans, last year The Ocean Project commissioned focus groups and a national poll to understand how and why people think about the oceans the way they do, what people know, and the gaps in public awareness about the oceans and related conservation issues. The survey work examined, in particular, the importance Americans place on ocean health and the potential for building greater saliency. The poll shows that telling people how and why the oceans are important tohuman survival is not enough to inspire the public to individual responsibility and action.
This survey work also demonstrates the tremendous opportunity for aquariums, zoos and
museums and others to reach the public with new educational efforts that emphasize both
science and learning and the inspirational and ecological value of healthy oceans.