[Coral-List] ICRS and IYOR 2008: getting the word out

Sarah Frias-Torres sfrias_torres at hotmail.com
Wed Jun 11 12:13:38 EDT 2008

Dear Coral-Listers and ICRS organizers,
January this year to last weekend I have been scuba diving in the Miami-Fort Lauderdale-Palm Beach area, using regular dive charters. Each time I had the chance, I asked fellow divers in the boat, and the dive masters and boat captains if they knew about the upcoming International Coral Reef Symposium in Fort Lauderdale and associated outreach activities.
I was surprised to see that most of the divers asked did not know of such event, have not seen it on the local newspapers, news media, and my mention of it was the first time they knew such an event existed. And only 25 % knew that 2008 is the International Year of the Reef.
Only the dive masters and captains of three dive shops knew about the conference and IYOR: Prodive usa (which has now closed business), American Dream and Pura vida divers (which are the two dive shops providing organized trips for symposium attendees). 
Further, while flying in and out the Miami and Fort Lauderdale international airports during the last 12 months, (which are likely the airports that will absorb most of the symposium attendees, and are indeed the entry point for Florida, Caribbean and connecting flights to the Americas), I did not see a sign of any slide show, video, or visual aid related to the International year of the Reef. I only saw a beautiful coral reef photo from NOAA in a corridor connecting terminals D and E (I think that was the correct direction) in Miami International Airport.
Maybe there is some PR campaign I don't know of, or maybe public service announcements will be provided to the community at some point, but it seems to me that a great opportunity to reach out to the general public and to specific users (i.e. the scuba diving community) has been missed. Considering the desperate situation of most of the coral reefs worldwide I find this lack of exposure quite disturbing.
We are about the half way mark of IYOR and gearing up for ICRS.... so any ideas on how to get the word out?

Sarah Frias-Torres, Ph.D. 
Marine Conservation Biologist
Ocean Research and Conservation Association, Fort Pierce, Florida, USA

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