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USF College of Marine Science to Host Events as BLUE Ocean Film Festival Sweeps St. Petersburg


Dolphin play off the bow of the R/V Weatherbird II during a research cruise in the Gulf of Mexico. Photo | Alexa Elliott.

Lecture, sea level symposium featured gatherings as scientists, filmmakers and environmentalists converge

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (Oct. 30, 2014) – With thousands of documentary filmmakers and fans, world renowned scientists and environmentalists set to gather at the BLUE Ocean Film Festival in St. Petersburg on Nov. 3-9, USF’s College of Marine Science will be among the ocean advocates and enthusiasts taking center stage at the global event.

The College of Marine Science will co-host three events which are part of the official BLUE Ocean Film Festival calendar: a community coastal cleanup; a symposium on sea level rise and a lecture by one of the world’s leading marine conservation biologists, Callum Roberts of the University of York.

With many of the BLUE Ocean events taking place just steps from the College of Marine Science’s waterfront location, the research vessel R/V Weatherbird II will host public tours and the college’s scientists and graduate students to be present at nearly every film and lecture in the weeklong event.

USF College of Marine Science Dean Jackie Dixon says attracting an event like BLUE to St. Petersburg gives international visibility to the college and its federal, state, and private partners that make up the St. Petersburg Ocean Team.

“It is important that we get the science right, but equally important to communicate that science to the public by touching their hearts and minds through art,” Dixon said.

BLUE is a unique public event with global reach, where advanced ocean technologies are showcased in concert with inspiring films, and an amazing and diverse collection of other venues. Founded in 2006 by Debbie and Charlie Kinder, the now international spectacular is being held for the first time in St. Petersburg, which besides its famed waterfront location is also home to one of the largest marine science clusters in the United States.

At 8 a.m. on Sunday, Nov. 2, the College of Marine Science will be participating in the Grand Community Clean-Up with other Bay area ocean environmental groups.

On Monday, the BLUE Ocean Film Festival will open by tackling one of the more dire issues for coastal communities: sea-level rise. The Sea Level Rise Symposium, which the College of Marine Science is hosting alongside the City of St. Petersburg, will be at 3:30 p.m., at the USF St. Petersburg Student Center Ballroom.

Gary Mitchum, associate dean for the College of Marine Science and a professor of physical oceanography, will be among the panelists who examine the major facets of sea level rise – from the hard science unveiling the threat and its economic and social impacts to the adaptation and mitigation measures our communities can undertake.

The event is free and open to the public, but seating is limited. To learn more, visit the Facebook event page created for the symposium or the BLUE Ocean website.

On Tuesday, the College of Marine Science’s Eminent Scholar Lecture Series will feature a talk and book signing by Roberts, author of The Unnatural History of the Sea and The Ocean of Life: The Fate of Man and the Sea. Roberts work examines the impact of human activity on marine ecosystems, particularly coral reefs.

He will deliver the lecture “Rebuilding Healthy Ocean Ecosystems: Why Abundance Matters And How To Get It Back,” at 3:30 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 4 at the Hilton St. Petersburg Bayfront. The talk is included in the price of BLUE Ocean Festival passes or an individual ticket is $25. Visit the BLUE Ocean website for more information and to purchase tickets.

The R/V Weatherbird II, the storied vessel that continues to play a leading role in the scientific research on the impact of the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill, will also be hosting public tours. The Florida Institute of Oceanography - the consortium of 28 public and private universities and marine research interests across the state which operates the vessel - will host the public from the Weatherbird II’s dock in the Bill Young Marine Science Complex.

Tours are scheduled for:

· Tuesday, Nov. 4, noon to 3 p.m.

· Thursday, Nov. 6, 9 a.m. to noon.

· Saturday, Nov. 8, 9 a.m. to noon.

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