[Coral-List] When coral science matters

Sarah Frias-Torres sfrias_torres at hotmail.com
Tue Feb 28 15:42:48 EST 2012

Dear coral-listers,Last week, while attending the Ocean Sciences meeting in Salt Lake City, Utah, something happened on the way to the convention center. 
A large crowd of people of all ages were standing in line, waiting in the freezing cold. Had the conference organizers taken a bold step reaching out to the public, so now an army of citizens were waiting to be amazed by the collective knowledge of 4,000 scientists attending the conference?Did the oceans finally entered people's minds? From a distance, I could see people jumping, the wind carrying around the sound of their laughs... Obviously a sign of excitement at learning the latest news and discoveries about the planet's oceans. 
As I kept walking, I discovered the long line was facing in the opposite direction, away from the convention center. Something was wrong.I asked the last person waiting in line, what was all that crowd waiting for. The answer caught me by surprise:"These are the trials for "So you think you can dance"", said a young girl.
..... I have a dream... that one day people will wait anxiously in line to learn about the oceans, to listen to the message the scientists have for them. They will wait in line, because big marine science conferences will have an open house day, an afternoon where the keynote speakers will give their best and brightest talks in a way anyone (with a brain in working order) can understand, followed by a "meet and greet the scientists", where anyone can approach a scientist (you know, they are the ones with their name tags hanging from their necks), and ask questions, any questions about the oceans, and the life within them, and why they are so important for each and everyone of us.
This year, I won't be able to afford attending the International Coral Reef Symposium. If any of the ICRS organizers is reading this message, please, consider to open the conference doors to the Cairns community, even if it's just for an afternoon. Offer some tea and pastries, or coffee (maybe free beer will be a bit of a stretch), and invite the community to participate in a quest for knowledge, to understand the coral reefs, to learn why they are so important to all of us.
And if you are a scientist attending ICRS, consider talking to the non-scientists that will interact with you during your conference visit. From the hotel receptionist to the taxi driver, 5 minutes of your time explaining why what you do is so important and how it's connected to them, could change someone's way of thinking, and perhaps, could change the fate of coral reefs. I do this every time I have a chance.

Sarah Frias-Torres, Ph.D. Schmidt Ocean Institute Postdoctoral FellowOcean Research & Conservation Association (ORCA) 1420 Seaway Drive, Fort Pierce, Florida 34949 USA Tel (772) 467-1600http://www.teamorca.orghttp://independent.academia.edu/SarahFriasTorres

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