Smithsonian Unveils New Webby Award-Winning Website Dedicated to Ocean Education and Stewardship
In celebration of World Oceans Day, the Smithsonian has launched a new website designed to raise awareness and understanding and inspire stewardship of the world’s ocean. Led by the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History in collaboration with more than 20 organizations, The Smithsonian Ocean Portal uses state-of-the-art, interactive Web technologies to create an online community where visitors can deepen their personal connection to the ocean and continually build on their knowledge of the ocean. The Portal was recently named the People’s Voice Winner for “Best Cultural Institution Website” in the 2010 Webby Awards competition.
“In light of the catastrophic oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, the need for comprehensive up-to-date information on the ocean is more crucial now than ever before,” said Cristián Samper, director of the National Museum of Natural History. “The Smithsonian Ocean Portal will build awareness of ocean issues by providing scientifically accurate information to visitors in a way that is timely, educational and engaging.”
Visitors to the Smithsonian Ocean Portal can navigate their own exploration of the ocean by accessing a host of resources made available through the museum’s extensive marine science network and the educational and scientific assets from the partners in this project. Website content is divided into key areas of focus to offer visitors a framework for their experience. They can choose from a variety of online ocean adventures and educational quests, including:
Ocean Life & Ecosystems, offering information about marine life species and the environments in which they live
Ocean Science, introducing visitors to the latest experiments and research of ocean scientists around the world
The Ocean Over Time, providing a look at the evolution of the ocean
For Educators, providing teachers with activities, lessons and educational resources
Photo Essays, highlighting feature stories on a variety of topics relating to ocean life
The Ocean & You, where visitors can learn about important ocean issues and ways to make a positive impact
Find Your Blue, a section designed to inspire visitors to participate, share, and check out featured actions that they can take to help the ocean
The website also includes the Ocean Portal Blog and RSS feeds where visitors can go to stay up-to-date on the latest in ocean news. Visitors can also access Ocean Portal content and participate through Facebook, Twitter and Flickr.
“The Ocean Portal is a groundbreaking project for the Smithsonian,” said Michael Edson, director of Web and New Media Strategy at the Smithsonian. “It is showing us a new way to learn: we’re bringing together citizens, students, educators and researchers from dozens of institutions to explore the dynamic complexities of the ocean in real time. This collaborative approach brings a human focus to science and begins to harness the vast creative potential of the Smithsonian’s amazing audiences.”
Unlike many traditional websites, the Ocean Portal is not static, one way or rigid in architecture. Instead, the Ocean Portal is a constantly evolving environment enhanced daily by rich content and media from its ocean collaborators, as well as the ebb and flow of visitor interactions and user-generated content.
The Ocean Portal represents the third pillar of the National Museum of Natural History’s Ocean Initiative, created to further the museum’s mission to increase ocean awareness and stewardship. The other pillars of the initiative include: the Sant Ocean Hall, the museum’s largest exhibition to-date and the only exhibition in the country devoted exclusively to a global view of the ocean, and the Sant Chair for Marine Science, currently filled by eminent marine biologist Nancy Knowlton.
The Smithsonian Ocean Portal collaborators include: ARKive, BBC Earth, Census of Marine Life, Centers for Ocean Sciences Education Excellence Network, Consortium for Ocean Leadership, EarthEcho International, International Union for Conservation of Nature, Japan Agency for Marine-Earth Science and Technology, MarViva, Monterey Bay Aquarium, Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute, National Geographic Society, National Marine Educators Association, Department of Commerce’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, New England Aquarium, Oceana, Ocean Conservancy, The Pew Charitable Trusts, Save Our Seas, Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego, SeaWeb, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution.
For more information on the Smithsonian Ocean Portal, including a calendar of related public programs, visit ocean.si.edu.
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