Team 1A 2024: Marine Microbiome Movement

The Problem

The marine microbiome accounts for two thirds of the biomass in our oceans. These microbes supply crucial services such as climate regulation, including the production of 50 % of Earth’s oxygen and offering a valuable resource of potential pharmaceuticals that could help us fight the battle against antibiotic resistance! However, very little is known about the marine microbiome and few people have ever heard of it. Ocean literacy should extend to include this crucial biome and the valuable services it supplies.

The potential and vulnerabilities of the marine microbiome suffer from a lack of understanding largely because it is nearly invisible to the human eye and is comparatively ecologically complex to other charismatic megafauna.

Our Hurdles

  1. Why should people care about the marine microbiome?
  2. How can we identify key findings to communicate complex science in an accessible way?
  3. How can we create a tangible brand?

Challenge Question

How might we create a brand that communicates the importance of marine microbiome-ocean-human connectivity to stakeholders in a clear, engaging and accessible way?

Our Solution: The Marine Microbiome Movement

A multi-media, collaborative campaign to communicate the importance and complexity of the marine microbiome in an accessible way to local communities and the wider general public. Our strategy is launched by the Marine Microbiome Week and supported by an interactive online environment.

Marine Microbiome Week

We plan to launch the MMM at the National Marine Aquarium in Plymouth, the biggest aquarium in the UK hosting ~1 000 visitors per day. This weeklong in-person event aims to raise awareness of the existence and importance of the marine microbiome. Our target audience are the local Plymouth community and wider general public, specifically families and schools. The main feature of our week is a “Marine Microbiome Trail”, where we aim to integrate information about the marine microbiome using new and existing exhibits in the National Marine Aquarium.

The Exhibit:

  1. Highlight plaques: includes information on the microbiome of the existing tanks and a video of a relevant scientist describing their field of research, how they got into microbiology, what inspires them and the biggest questions they are trying to answer.
  2. Interactive screen: a large interactive touch screen which provides information on the marine microbiome. This screen will be reflected in the online environment, generating a consistent brand between the in-person event and the ongoing marine microbiome movement.
  3. Arts, crafts and microscopy station: an opportunity for the local community to engage with the marine microbiome in a more practical way by creating microbiology inspired art and see the microbiome from their local marine environment by using samples from Plymouth Sounds under microscopes.

Our Vision

      1. Social media campaign to raise awareness of the exhibit: Tik Tok, Instagram, Facebook and adverts to local schools.
      2. Marine Microbiome Week: National Marine Aquarium Interactive Trail.
      3. Virtual trail online with additional content for continued engagement and increased access.
      4. Online workshops run by scientists on the highlight plaques to help teachers and students learn about the marine microbiome.
      5. Expand the marine microbiome week to more sites: museums and aquariums.

      Our vision is to generate national awareness of the importance of the marine microbiome and keep people engaged with it, closing the gap between the general public and the science community, starting with a local exhibit that expands year on year.