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USF College of Marine Science


Capitol Hill Ocean Week Goes Virtual

Capital Hill Oceans Week 2020

Capital Hill Oceans Week 2020

Written by Kristen Kusek, Former Communications Director for USF CMS

This free event on Tuesday, June 9, 2020 includes a strong presence by scientists affiliated with the Marine Biodiversity Observation Network (MBON), including the USF College of Marine Science, Gulf of Mexico Coastal Ocean Observing System (GCOOS), Southeast Coastal Ocean Observing Regional Association (SECOORA), and more.

Capitol Hill Ocean Week (CHOW), which started as a modest gathering nearly 20 years ago, has grown into the nation’s leading annual conference to support the ocean and Great Lakes. This year, one chock-full of global firsts due to the coronavirus pandemic, also holds some firsts for CHOW.

The meeting will be held virtually on June 9, 2020. It is free and open to everyone.  Register here and see the full agenda, visit.

In addition, for the first time the organizers adopted a singular theme: protecting marine biodiversity. As such, CHOW 2020 will showcase extensive cross-sector partnerships being advanced through the Marine Biodiversity Observation Network (MBON), a global program that aims to standardize the methods used to quantify and monitor marine biodiversity – especially critical work in this time of global change.

“Ecosystems are changing in response to our warming climate,” said Dr. Frank Muller-Karger, professor at the USF College of Marine Science and one of the leaders of the U.S. MBON program. “We have a responsibility to help safeguard these systems that we depend on for food, water, jobs and more.”

MBON includes many partners from NASA, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM), the Office of Naval Research (ONR), NOAA, the U.S. Integrated Ocean Observing System (IOOS), Gulf of Mexico Coastal Ocean Observing System (GCOOS), the Southeast Coastal Ocean Observing Regional Association (SECOORA), USF, and many other academic groups.

“With CHOW being free to anyone with access to the internet this year, we hope to bring many more eyes, ears and hands-on solutions to the immense global challenge of how to measure and predict biodiversity,” said Muller-Karger.

Here are a few of the MBON affiliates who will participate:

  • Muller-Karger will participate in the “Innovative Approaches to Restoration and Monitoring” panel, featuring innovations in Artificial Intelligence, omics, remote sensing, acoustics and animal telemetry. This panel will be moderated by Dr. Josie Quintrell, Executive Director of IOOS.
  • Anni Djurhuus, formerly a student at the USF College of Marine Science and now at the University of the Faroe Islands, will participate in the “Emerging Leaders” panel. See more about her work here.
  • Francisco Chavez from the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute will participate in the “Transformative Technologies” panel.
  • Neil Hammerschlag from the University of Miami Rosenstiel School of Marine & Atmospheric Science will participate in the “Cooperating for Our Global Ocean” panel.
  • In addition, Dr. Ruth Perry, Marine Scientist and Regulatory Policy Specialist for Shell Upstream Americas, will educate CHOW participants about the value of area-based management and new ideas to maximize protection impacts. 

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Our blue planet faces a suite of challenges and opportunities for understanding and innovation. Our mission is to advance understanding of the interconnectivity of ocean systems and human-ocean interactions using a cross-disciplinary approach, to empower the next workforce of the blue economy with a world-class education experience, and to share our passion for a healthy environment and science-informed decision-making with community audiences near and far.