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  • Ben Couvin

Documenting Life at Sea

Outreach is an important feature of the PORO-CLIM Expedition. Along with our blog and social media accounts we have been recording life at sea through photography, filming and we are even going to record episodes of the iCRAGorama podcast onboard.


We've been filming lots of videos not only about life aboard the Celtic Explorer, but also videos that explain the aims and reasoning behind the PORO-CLIM science expedition. Out of all of us, Matt is the most comfortable in front of the camera, and made quite a good first impression in his introductory video.



Since then, we've been working together on more videos, filming diverse aspects of the expedition, and every opportunity to take the camera out of its bag is a good one!


Catching Matt in the act as he records himself... explaining the mechanics of the oceanic crust, I asked him why he values the importance of science communication through film.


Ben: Hey Matt, could you tell me a bit about what you're doing at the moment?


Matt: This is a proper thoroughbred research expedition, and as part of that, the people who are funding it, Eurofleets+ and the Marine Institute, wanted some researchers to be part of the science but to also work as science communicators: to run outreach programmes on social media, on YouTube, to record some podcasts about their experiences at sea, and all of this is to try and get the word out there as to what we're doing as scientists on this boat, so yeah, we're here at the moment recording a short video about what is the science that we're conducting, trying to distill it into a 2-3 mn video, which is not an easy task...



"We're trying to distill the science

we're conducting in a 2-3 min short video,

which is not an easy task..."


Ben: What has been one of the most challenging aspects of filming at sea?


Matt: The sea sickness probably. The first few days, we were stuck in a pretty strong storm, and a lot of the early career researchers who are running the outreach programme have never been to sea before, and we were all pretty wiped out for three to four days... We would have loved to start capturing exciting content, but we were buried in our beds, trying not to throw up, so that was the biggest challenge.


Ben: Yes, that was quite the ordeal alright! And I see you're using a whiteboard here, what exactly are you planning to do for this next video?


Matt: So, right now we've just finished recording my bits for a YouTube video, and we'll have some sketches and annotations on the whiteboard to try and better convey visually what it is that we're researching, using stop-motion animation.


Uploading videos from the ocean is challenging, due to the limited internet connection. But bear with us, we'll have plenty to show you as soon as we return - Stay tuned!


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As you can see in our previous blog posts, photography has been an essential part of our outreach work. Whether it is to get a snapshot of sea life or our Lego scientists, it's all about telling a story simply with pictures. I sat down with Niamh to ask her how she found the idea of using Legos for outreach and how stories can help deliver a message...



"I think everyone just loves Legos...

it makes scientists more relatable!"


Ben: Where did the idea of photographing Legos come from?


Niamh: It's something I thought could be quite fun. For EGU [European Geoscience Union- an annual geoscience conference], this year, the resident artist Stacy Phillips uses Legos for science communication. So I contacted her, spoke to her about it, and we thought we'd run with the idea. I think everyone just loves Legos, it's a very recognisable brand... It's also a nice nod to our Danish colleagues on board!


Ben: What do you think makes it so appealing to our audience?


Niamh: I personally like it because I'm still a kid at heart, and.... I think it creates a nice story and therefore can reach all audiences, so it's really good for children, but also adults! Lots of scientists have reached out and said they loved the idea and that they'd use it when they come on the Celtic Explorer, which is really exciting!


Ben: Why is storytelling such an important aspect of outreach, do you think?


Niamh: Scientists are often perceived as being out of touch, and so, telling our story with its successes, but also its struggles, makes it more approachable and more relatable.


Ben: What else have you photographed during the expedition?


Niamh: I took photos of the menus with Erica! We're going to put them in a collection at the end of the expedition... and sunsets! Beautiful sunsets!





You can find all of these photographs either on this blog or on our social media pages: @poroclim on Instagram and @Clim_poro on Twitter.


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On top of photographs and videos, we are planning to record a podcast and continue posting on social media (and maybe more!). These are still in the works and we'll be covering them in an upcoming follow-up blog post. See you then! In the meantime, I think the Captain is calling us on the bridge, so, I better hurry! Take care everyone.




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