Something Fishy Is Going On
By Dr. Rob Jones, "The Aquarium Vet"
Last month, the journal Nature published an eye-opening paper, titled "Half a Century of Global Decline in Oceanic Sharks and Rays." Co-authored by 20 international scientists, it is part of the Global Shark Trends Project, which is reassessing the population of 1,200 species around the world.
The study showed that since 1970, oceanic sharks and rays have declined by 71 percent, owing to an 18-fold increase in relative fishing pressure. "The numbers show the global abundance of oceanic sharks and rays has fallen to the point that 75 percent of these species now qualify as threatened with extinction," said James Cook University's Dr. Cassandra Rigby. Three of the 18 species examined by the team are critically endangered.
Overfishing is the primary cause of marine defaunation. Strict prohibitions and precautionary science-based catch limits are urgently needed to avert a complete population collapse, avoid the disruption of ecological functions, and promote species recovery. The article is available online at https://www.nature.com/articles/s41586-020-03173-9.
It has been estimated that the shark finning trade alone accounts for 100 million sharks per year—about 2 million per week! One of the Association for Zoos and Aquariums SAFE programs involves sharks. For details, visit aza.org/safe-species.
Aquariums and zoos have a unique role to play educating our visitors. Sharks get a bad reputation, due to shark attack and fatalities that occur. However, humans pose a much greater threat to the sharks overall than they do to us. The other big concern is what happens when apex predators are removed from any ecosystem.
An extraordinary video I saw a few years ago (you can watch it at https://www.youtube.com/watch/ysa5OBhXz-Q) documents the incredibly positive effect of reintroducing wolves into Yellowstone National Park, where they were the habitat's apex predator. After watching this video, I thought of our oceans, how we are removing apex predators in massive numbers, and the profound effect it is having—and will continue to have. We need to encourage our visitors to think more kindly toward sharks, and assist in whatever way possible to reverse this alarming trend.
E-lasmo Conference 2021
The second annual E-lasmo Conference will be held live online over four days during the week of March 22, with over four hours of content per day. One of the days will be solely devoted to elasmobranch training and conditioning. Other topics will include husbandry, diseases and parasites, life support systems, conservation and reproduction. In fact, the conference will cover almost any topic related to elasmobranchs in human care.
For more information, please visit theaquariumvet.com/conference/.
E-quarist™ Courses—Academy Subscriber Special!
The San Diego Zoo Global Academy is excited to share an additional Academy subscriber benefit regarding our collaboration with The Aquarium Vet. As an Academy subscriber, you are now entitled to a 10 percent discount on the E-quarist™ courses. We are also happy to offer one of our free monthly webinars.
The Aquarium Vet has a free Aquatic Animal Welfare Module (focusing on fish and aquatic invertebrates), designed for aquariums and zoos. To register for this Aquatic Animal Welfare Module, visit the Aquarium Vet website.
For more information about the SDZGA discount, or anything about the e-quarist™course, including next month's free webinar, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Visit the Aquarium Vet website at theaquariumvet.com.au.
One Simple Question That Can Make or Break a Videoconference
By Andy Goodman, Director, The Goodman Center
Should my camera be on or off?
It seems like such a simple question, perhaps even trivial; but in the pursuit of engaging and productive videoconferences, you would be surprised how critical the answer can be. For some attendees, telling them to turn their cameras on can make them feel more included, more connected to other participants, and more focused on the matter at hand. But for an almost equal number, an activated camera can feel like an invasion of privacy—an unblinking spotlight that makes them physically uncomfortable and unable to fully concentrate.
We discovered this sharp divide in the research for our report Unmuted: What Works, What Doesn't, and How We Can All Do Better When Working Together Online. With valid arguments on both sides, how should online convening leaders and facilitators handle this choice?
The category and size of your convening can offer some help. Since web meetings tend to be smaller gatherings and usually thrive on high levels of interaction among the participants, these would appear to be times to ask participants to leave their video on—and our survey respondents agreed: 65 percent preferred having their video on frequently or always, and only 9 percent preferred to have video on rarely or never during web meetings.
Given a choice of five reasons for preferring that video stays on (with the option to select all that applied and also to enter other reasons not listed), respondents prioritized their reasons as follows:
- It makes it easier to interact and communicate (84 percent).
- It helps me stay focused (60 percent).
- If I see other videos on, it feels rude to have mine off (59 percent).
- It makes me feel less isolated and more part of a group (57 percent).
- It's required/requested by the facilitator (19 percent).
Among the "other" reasons respondents provided, noteworthy examples included:
- "As a leader in my organization, I feel it's appropriate to demonstrate to others that I am 'present.'"
- "I want my supervisors to see that I'm engaged."
And my personal favorite:
- "You don't put a paper bag on your head when you meet in person."
Since webinars often involve larger groups, they would seem to function more smoothly with personal video cameras turned off, and respondents clearly leaned in this direction: only 26 percent preferred them on frequently or always; and, even more telling, 45 percent—5 times the number of web meetings attendees—said they rarely or never leave their video on. Given a choice of four reasons for preferring to leave their video off (again, with the option to select all that applied and also to enter other reasons not listed), respondents prioritized their reasons as follows:
- I prefer not to worry about my appearance/attire/background (68 percent).
- I'm distracted by my own video (36 percent).
- It makes me self-conscious (35 percent).
- It's physically uncomfortable to have to stay within the video frame (27 percent).
Nearly 40 percent of respondents who answered this question volunteered other reasons to add to this list, with "bandwidth issues," "concerns over privacy/security," "not wishing to be seen multi-tasking," and "no added value" leading the way.
This on/off debate should not be reduced to an either/or proposition. The data for web meetings strongly suggests there are occasions to ask everyone to turn their cameras on, just as the data for webinars indicates that a sizable part of your audience would prefer to leave them off for that kind of convening.
At The Goodman Center, we strive to have the best of both worlds within a single convening. When we begin a webinar (which will usually involve 20 to 25 participants), we ask everyone to join with their video on so we can welcome them, and so they can see who else is attending. Once the class is underway and we begin teaching, we ask participants to turn their video off so we can all focus on the content (which almost always involves PowerPoint slides). When we stop periodically for questions or discussion, we ask participants to turn their video on again, so everyone can see who's speaking.
Every request to turn video cameras on or off, however, comes with the option to decline. First and foremost, we believe that people work best and learn more when they feel comfortable and safe. In virtual settings, that feeling begins with how they want to be seen…or not.
In addition, be aware that race, gender, and age can also affect how individuals approach this decision:
- While 65 percent of all respondents prefer to keep their video on during meetings, a noticeably smaller percentage of people of color (55 percent) expressed this preference during meetings.
- Men are more likely than women to prefer having video on during meetings, by a small but statistically significant margin: 25.4 percent to 19.5 percent.
- Younger participants are much more likely to feel it's rude to have their cameras off when others have them on, when compared to older participants: 77.1 percent for 20-somethings vs. 49.4 percent for participants ages 60 and older.
Finally, we must all acknowledge the fact that participants in our meeting may be attending many online convenings that day, and may simply get tired of being "on camera." We noted many comments along these lines in our survey, and one in particular jumped out: "My boss makes us keep our video on. I'm on video five to seven hours a day. It is exhausting. I hate looking at myself all day and fake smiling during Zoom meetings. My head hurts every day. Please make it stop."
The least we can do is offer that option.
Visit The Goodman Center here.