Monday, July 18, 2011

Restore Florida Bay

It's finally here. The website is live! 

Since October of last year I have been working on compiling photography and videos to help promote Everglades restoration efforts and raise awareness about our fragile gem, Florida Bay. The entire crew at Tavernier Science Center put in their efforts as well with providing informative text, posing for photos, and of course the wonderful narration you hear on all of the EcoLab videos. 

The Disney Worldwide Conservation Fund provided the grant money to make this website possible and we are eternally grateful for their support. As scientists, our office constantly struggles to come up with new and creative ways to get our message out to the public without all the dry graphs and charts that our data compiles. Instead, we wanted to show you the basis of our research and the importance of Florida Bay and the southern Everglades through a mix of photography and video on an engaging website. While doing so, I learned some interesting things about conservation, Florida Bay, and myself.

For example: I make to-do lists. I guess I'm a list-maker. And I realized that it's all a ridiculous dance solely for the satisfaction of crossing completed tasks and projects off that list. I noticed sometimes I will even add benign activities that I already fulfilled earlier that day, just to watch as my pseudo-productivity meter grows. "Pick up clothes and books off the floor." Check.

But I have two lists. One for the every day grind and another dedicated to more long-term project. For the last 9 months sitting at the top of my whiteboard in bold black letters read "Restore Florida Bay." Late last month I was finally able to strike through those menacing words and appease my inner demons of productivity.

There was a point in the process, however, where I couldn't see it ending. I ran into so many bumps along the way from poor weather, to drowned cameras, to computer crashes, to copyrighted music, which proved to be the biggest headache of all. Giving up on calling music labels I eventually found myself scouring the internet for days on end to find the right royalty-free tunes to align with our tempo and mood. It's unbelievable what some people name their songs: "Sick to the Back Teeth," "Plastic Energy Man," "Countenance of Limitless Light," and my favorite (but didn't make the cut) "No Pants Friday." Not to mention every time I thought I was finished with a video I would see something new in the Everglades and come back to my studio to replace old footage. That's the beauty of this place though; it's ever-changing and always inspiring. 

I would like to thank everyone at the Tavernier Science Center for their constant support. Megan Tinsley was the brains behind the website and provided all of the text you read in the links. Michelle Robinson, Adam Chasey, Erin Woods, Heather Schorge, and April Geisler make up the field biologist fish crew and put up with my camera constantly in their faces as they tried to work in the Florida heat. To Terry Jones, our trusty helicopter pilot who never seemed to mind me darting back and forth in the cockpit to capture the aerials you see in the EcoLabs. An additional thank you to Heather Schorge for her amazing narrative voice and to Karen Dyer, former head of spoonbill research who patiently endured mosquitoes and mud while I photographed her with the hatchlings. Of course Jerry Lorrenz, the state director of research, for continuing to run this important study and trusting us with such a big undertaking. And to you, for helping spread the word, and for caring. 

I hope these videos will grow legs and make their way around the south Florida community, especially the policy makers who help determine the fate of our natural places. Here are quick links to the videos but please do take the time to browse the site if you find time. I'd love to hear your thoughts. 

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