Introducing Naked Oceans

For several years now I’ve been regular co-presenter on the Naked Scientists – a fun, live science show broadcast from Cambridge University. And if any of you have ever listened in, you’ll know that I tend to talk about the oceans, a lot. Well, now I’m getting the chance to talk about nothing else, in a new series of podcasts dedicated to ocean science and conservation.

And so, it is with my greatest pleasure, dear Blog readers, to introduce you to NAKED OCEANS.

As the tagline goes “From seagrass to sunfish, dugongs to diatoms, this is Naked Oceans.” Every month for the next year, we’re producing a half hour podcast all about the oceans.

But first, for any of you who are interested, here’s a little more about how we got here.

The journey began 18 months ago, when I first had the idea to produce a podcast about the seas. What could be more fun – and important – I mused to myself, than spreading the good word about the oceans? But would anyone listen?

I thought some more about it, scribbled down some ideas (e.g. “Ask famous marine scientists what their favourite fish is…”), and eventually shared my ponderings with the rest of the Naked Scientists production team.

‘Great Idea’  they all told me. (Phew. First hurdle safely negotiated).

Next up was funding and I began the hunt for potential sponsors.

And a couple of things made the whole thing so much easier than I anticipated.

First, the fantastic podcasts the Naked Scientists already produce meant I could show people exactly the sort of thing I wanted to do. As well as the award-winning weekly shows that cover every corner of science, there are the specialist monthly pods: Ben Valsler looks into the skies for Naked Astronomy, and Diana O’Caroll digs deep for Naked Archaeology. Mine would be just as brilliant – I told people – only about the seas.

My second stroke of luck was finding the Save Our Seas Foundation.

I already knew about the ocean research they fund, including from watching a great documentary about Andrea Marshall’s manta research in Mozambique and beyond.

Calling in at their website, I discovered their funding remit also covers marine education projects. Ahah – that’s me!

After a whole lot of hard work, ironing out our plans, persuading some top scientists to support our project, and making the whole thing sound feasible – thanks in no small part to Naked Scientists pioneer Chris Smith – our application went in asking for start-up money for Naked Oceans. And I tried my best to forget about it while the grants committee made their selection.

A few weeks later we were short listed and my hopes rose a little higher. But not too high – one in three applications made it through to the first round, but there were still 50 of us to choose between.

And a few months later, in March this year, another email arrived from Save Our Seas and with a dash of English pessimism I assumed it was a “thank you but no thank you” rejection. But no. We got the grant. Naked Oceans was born.

Reading that email – and letting the news sink in a little as I sat quietly on my sofa in an empty house – was one of those pivotal moments when something important changes. Now I’m making podcasts about the oceans. Brilliant. Time to tell people.

And it was also time to start making Naked Oceans a reality. I had to learn how to make podcasts…

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