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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Drifters of the Sea: Antarctic Citizen Science 


Utilizing filmmaking as a tool for marine conservation, “Drifters of the Sea” brings light to the role of phytoplankton in marine ecosystems, as well as the importance of citizen science.

Phyto comes from the Greek word for “plant”, and plankton comes from the Greek word for “drifter”. So, they are microscopic algae drifting in the oceans. To bring the audience closer to the microscopic world and citizen science, this film takes a closer look at FjordPhyto, a project that engages tourists in Antarctica in scientific activities by allowing them to participate in the collection of phytoplankton.

“Drifters of the Sea” focuses on three interviews: Dr. Maria Vernet, Co-Founder of FjordPhyto and phytoplankton ecologist at Scripps Institution of Oceanography; Allison Cusick, Co-Founder of FjordPhyto and Graduate Student at Scripps Institution of Oceanography; and Caitlyn Webster, polar guide and polar citizen science participant. They all share with us their journey of practicing science in Antarctica, and they teach us important facts about the microscopic world. If knowing is the key to caring, then citizen science can be an important tool for non-scientists to care more about the environment, and we might become better at protecting our ecosystems.

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