[Coral-List] Utilization of the internet to educate the public about coral reefs

Emily Vuxton emilyvux at ufl.edu
Thu Aug 7 13:12:48 EDT 2008

Hello Coral-listers,

Recent posts about you tube have made me start thinking about the 
power of the internet to spread coral reef awareness. Recent CNN 
articles about "armchair astronomers" 
tell about the Galaxy Zoo project, launched last year by Yale 
University astrophysicist Kevin Schawinski and Chris Lintott at 
the University of Oxford in England (http://www.galaxyzoo.org/). 
The project invited volunteers from around the world to help 
categorize galaxies from the comfort of their own home after 
viewing a brief online tutorial. Last year, 150,000 people 
submitted over 50 million classifications.

"We were overwhelmed by the response. It completely melted the 
server," Schawinski told CNN. "People tell us it's addictive. Some 
of [the volunteers] are professional astronomers, but most of them 
are not. They're just regular people who got excited about the 

Why do I wish to draw your attention to this? More and more people 
are using the internet to learn about new subjects and connect to 
the world around them. Public service announcements and news paper 
articles certainly get our message out, but if we want the public 
to truly connect to the mission of saving the world's coral reefs, 
we should invite them to get involved, on a personal level. 
Organizations like Reef Check have already recognized this, but 
for those people who are unable to dive, visit, or even see coral 
reefs we should provide an online option that would let them get 
involved. So many people are internet savvy nowadays and would 
prefer to spend their time surfing the web making a difference 
(you can see this through the success of sites like 
www.goodsearch.com). Why not provide them with an opportunity to 
surf (the virtual wave) and save coral reefs?

As for using you tube to post videos from ICRS, I think you'd be 
surprised at the wide range of videos that people watch on that 
site. Students alone are used to watching classes online: watching 
ICRS talks would not be that big of a difference. If they were 
posted, as well, professors and educators could integrate them 
into their lectures and classroom lesson plans. If we wish to be 
successful in our mission of educating the public, we should 
utilize all mediums that are currently available.

Emily Vuxton
Undergraduate, Department of Zoology, University of Florida

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