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Science To Impact Area

Ocean Literacy

PML is dedicated to promoting an understanding of the ocean's influence on our lives and the impact we have on our ocean. We aim to inspire interest, foster emotional connections and empower individuals to make informed decisions and changes in behaviour that contribute to the conservation, restoration and sustainable use of the ocean.

Ocean literacy is seen as an outcome – a society that understands, values, and cares for the ocean. It encompasses the knowledge, skills, values and behaviours needed to engage with the ocean in a meaningful way. By contributing to ocean literacy, we strive to drive positive change and inspire everyone to be ocean champions.

At PML, we are committed to advancing ocean literacy through various initiatives and projects. Our research focuses on understanding the ocean's complex dynamics and its interaction with human activities. By bridging the gap between science and society, we aim to translate our findings into practical solutions and provide the tools to empower individuals to make a positive impact on the ocean.

Our work on ocean literacy extends beyond scientific research, as we aim to engage diverse audiences, including schools, universities, businesses, decision makers, and the general public. We aim to work at multiple levels from local communities to regional and global initiatives.

Engaging schools, universities and the public

We actively collaborate with schools, universities and other educational organisations to promote ocean literacy. Through partnerships, such as Encounter Edu and with the Connect Academy Trust, we strive to enhance educational experiences and foster a deeper understanding of the ocean. 

We also engage with the wider public through citizen science initiatives, collaborations with artists and literacy-focused partnerships including locally with the Box, the National Marine Aquarium and the Plymouth National Marine Park. Recently, our project "Smelling Seaweeds" has successfully engaged communities in the process of understanding the health benefits of seaweeds and their link with the environment. Our work has featured on high profile programmes such as the BBC Blue Planet and our scientists can frequently be seen talking about their work in local and national media.

Policy and professional engagement

PML's ocean literacy initiatives extend beyond the academic realm to engage businesses, professionals and policymakers. We are dedicated to aligning our work with larger agendas, such as the UN Sustainable Development Goals, and the UN Ocean Decade. For example, we regularly contribute to large global initiatives including the UN Climate Change Conferences (UNFCCC COPs), the UN Biodiversity Conferences (CBD COPs), the Global Plastic Treaty (INCs), providing insights on ocean-related topics and contributing to policy briefing papers. We also collaborate with several organisations to support training and capacity building activities.


PML Project pages

Other projects

  • Ocean Conservation Curriculum - PML is working with the Connect Academy Trust to develop an ocean-based curriculum for primary schools.
  • ProBleu - an innovative project aimed at promoting ocean and water literacy within school communities.
  • Ocean Acidification Research for Sustainability (OARS) - PML are partners in this UN Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development project that has a focus on public awareness and policy engagement.
  • OceanICU - PML is a partner in this project, which aims to foster young people's interest in and understanding of the ocean carbon cycle and its role in regulating the global climate.
Our internal focus groups, arts collaborations, involvement in training programmes, and the Ocean Literacy Science to Impact Challenge initiative are just a few further examples of our ocean literacy commitment.

Selected publications

Our work has resulted in several key publications and resources that contribute to ocean literacy. Below are just a few examples. We also produce briefing papers, non-technical brochures on current topics, and contribute to large-scale reports on the ocean and climate such at the Marine Climate Change Impacts Partnership (MCCIP) and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) reports.

People who work in this area of research

Professor Helen Findlay

Biological Oceanographer
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Dr Gennadi Lessin

Marine System Modeller
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