February 12, 2009
Another addition to the list of online sites distributing underwater media: NOAA has recently released the National Marine Sanctuaries Media Library.
In a news release on the site, they write that “The media library is part of a continuing NOAA effort to enhance public awareness, understanding, and appreciation of the marine environment. It was created to provide a resource for numerous audiences, including students, educators, publishers, conservation organizations and individuals looking for compelling marine-related images.” As is common in many of these online underwater photo and video distribution hubs (see also, The Ocean Channel, EarthOCEAN, etc.) the spread of images is itself framed as a potential mobilizer of environmental action. If we can just see the beauty under the surface, we will be compelled to stop the destruction.
These sites are fairly distinct from underwater media fan sites such as ScubaTube and AquaBank. These sites feature user generated content more prominently, forground the adventure of descending beneath the water, and tend to have images of female bikini-clad divers rather than environmentalist rhetoric on the periphery.
June 21, 2008
NOAA’s National Ocean Service helps organize and carry out ocean explorations within the US’s thirteen marine sanctuaries and once ecological reserve. On their website they document (with photos, video, and text) many of these expeditions in detail. There is a significant educational component to the site: there is a section on the history of NOAA exploration, technologies of ocean exploration, a gallery of different types of media, and a variety of different materials crafted specifically for teachers, such as lesson plans. As the site states:
The NOAA Ocean Exploration program strives to engage broad audiences to enhance America’s environmental literacy through the excitement of ocean discovery. Increasing this literacy requires high-quality, effective collaborations between ocean explorers and America’s teachers. NOAA is forming such collaborations to reach out in new ways to the public to improve the literacy of learners with respect to ocean issues.
The vast amount of media on this site is meant to tie together scientific research with public environmental literacy (and potentially, activism). And the media itself is what makes the site a place for the “excitement of ocean discovery.” Users, or students, are encouraged to explore, dive into these explorations, each of which has a variety of media to sift through. The interface of the website itself, with a variety of different links (and evocative images) encourages this exploration as well.