Amazing Oceans

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Covering almost three-quarters of the Earth, our amazing oceans are vast, beautiful, scary and relatively unexplored. This collection brings to the surface fascinating insights and stories across ocean science, conservation and culture.

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DatesAvailable to watch on-demand now
Talks structure30 minute lecture20 minute Q&A

7 talks in this Garden Series



Science & Nature
Geography & the World
Where does the oxygen we breathe come from?

The oceans absorb nearly 1/3 of our carbon emissions; they are literally the world's lungs. How does the sea 'breathe', and why does it do it? Read more

Dr. Veronique Oldham

University of Rhode Island

Veronique Oldham is a trace metal chemist, who studies the flow of energy in our oceans. Hailing from Canada, Veronique has always had an interest in the environment and the oceans, and her career began during an internship at the Bermuda Institute of Ocean Sciences. There, she met her would be PhD advisor, and moved to Delaware to pursue research on manganese and iron chemistry in environments ranging from the coastal ocean, to deep sea hydrothermal vents.

Following her PhD, Veronique accepted a Post Doctoral Scholarship at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, the largest oceanographic non-profit organization in the world. There, she examines metal cycling in the coastal ocean, deep sea methane seeps, and in Antarctica. For the last two years, Veronique has been an assistant professor at the University of Rhode Island's Graduate School of Oceanography. She runs a trace metal lab, and is working on examining metal cycles along oxygen gradients in the Gulf of Mexico; the formation of particles in the Southern Ocean; and the bacterial formation of solids for wastewater remediation.

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Geography & the World
How did oceans shape human history?

Territory, food, commerce and conquest: what role have the seas played in the development of the nations we see today? Read more

Prof. David Abulafia

University of Cambridge

David Abulafia is Emeritus Professor of Mediterranean History at Cambridge University, where he has spent his entire career, and Papathomas Professorial Fellow of Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge.

He is also visiting Beacon Professor at the newly-founded University of Gibraltar. He is a Fellow of the British Academy and a Member of the Academia Europaea. Among his books, most of which have concerned the history of the Mediterranean, are the best-selling The Great Sea: a Human History of the Mediterranean, published by Penguin Books, which won the British Academy Medal and the Mountbatten Maritime Award, which has been translated into nine languages, with more to follow. His latest book is The Boundless Sea:a Human History of the Oceans, also for Penguin Books, published in 2019.  It has won the Wolfson History Prize for 2020, the largest non-fiction book prize in the UK.

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Science & Nature
Geography & the World
What alien habitats exist on the bottom of the ocean?

The tech required to explore the deepest parts of the ocean is coming on in leaps and bounds. What bizarre habitats and organisms have we found, and what still remains to be discovered? Read more

Prof. Erik Cordes

There is no-one better to take us on a tour of the ocean's depths than Erik Cordes.

Erik is a Full Professor and Vice Chair in the Department of Biology at Temple University in Philadelphia, USA. He has worked on the ecology of the deep sea for over 25 years, during which he has organised and led expeditions to the USA, the Gulf of Mexico, the Caribbean, Costa Rica, and the Phoenix Islands Protected Area in the central Pacific.

Erik has always been fascinated by the ocean and formed a bond with it early on by fishing with his grandfather in Mississippi and exploring tide pools on the Isles of Shoals in New Hampshire. Now, he runs the Cordes Lab at Temple, a specialist unit focused on deep-sea ecology and ocean exploration. When he's not joining us in The Garden, you'll probably find him on a boat, or if not, listening to one of the more than 1,200 records in his collection.

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Human Biology & Medicine
Science & Nature
How does the ocean contribute to new drug development?

There's so much left to learn about the sea and its organisms. Could the ocean be the source of the next drug to change medicine? Read more

Dr. Jeanette Davis

A dynamic author, research scientist, and diversity advocate, Dr. Jeanette Davis (also known as Dr. Ocean) has left her mark far beyond the field of science.

Jeanette is a Marine Microbiologist who contributes to ocean science nationally and internationally. She earned her B.S. in Marine and Environmental Science from Hampton University and a Ph.D. in Marine Microbiology from the University of Maryland where she focused on marine drug discovery.

Jeanette was recently cited in Science Magazine for her work as part of a team that discovered a marine bacterium that helps fight cancer.

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Science & Nature
Geography & the World
What is life like beneath the polar ice?

We know so little about the deep sea, and even less about what it's like beneath the ice of the Earth's polar regions. How does life flourish in one of the most inhospitable environments on the planet? Read more

Prof. Antje Boetius

Marine biologist Prof. Antje Boetius is a woman who wears many hats. Not only is she the Director of the Alfred Wegener Institute, a centre for polar and marine research near Bremen in Germany, but she also leads the Joint Research Group for Deep-Sea Ecology and Technology at the Max Planck Institute for Marine Microbiology. And when she isn't doing either of those things, she's a Professor of Geomicrobiology at the University of Bremen.

Antje's research focuses on the impacts of climate change on the Earth’s oceans and polar regions. As a deep-sea researcher, her work also involves finding previously undiscovered habitats in the deep sea, and in particular, deep-sea ecosystems below the ice, as well as on seamounts, mud volcanoes, gas hydrates, and cold and hot springs. Her studies on the ecological impacts of deep-sea mining highlight the long-term consequences of disrupting the ocean floor.

Antje has taken part in almost 50 expeditions on international research vessels, making her the perfect person to take members of The Garden on a trip to the deep sea.

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Science & Nature
Geography & the World
What does bioluminescence tell us about life in the ocean?

More than 75% of sea creatures produce their own light. How do they do it, and what can we learn from this incredible marine firework display? Read more

Dr. Edie Widder

Ocean Research & Conservation Association (ORCA)

Dr. Edith (Edie) Widder is a former senior scientist at Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institution and the Founder of the Ocean Research & Conservation Association (ORCA), the USA's first technology-based marine conservation association.

Edie's doctorate is in Neurobiology, but she is also a qualified Scientific Research Pilot, with certifications that qualify her to dive deep diving suits and single-person untethered submersibles. She has made over 250 dives in submersibles, and her research has been featured in BBC, PBS, Discovery Channel and National Geographic television productions.

Edie is a specialist in bioluminescence (the light chemically produced by many ocean organisms), and she has been a leader in helping to design and invent new submersible instrumentation and equipment to enable unobtrusive deep-sea observations. Working with engineers, she has conceived and built several unique devices that enable humans to see beneath the waves in new ways.

In the summer of 2012, Edie was part of a team that filmed the giant squid in its natural habitat for the first time ever. Her innovative work earned her the 2018 Explorers Club Citation of Merit; she is one of just six women to have earned this honour.

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Science & Nature
Geography & the World
Why does the world need sharks?

Sharks are often one of the more misunderstood creatures of the sea, for years demonised by movies. This talk explores why sharks are in fact an essential part of the ocean's ecosystem and how our own future is dependent on saving them. Read more

Dr. David Shiffman

Arizona State University

Dr. David Shiffman has loved sharks since childhood. He is an interdisciplinary marine biologist who studies threatened sharks and how to protect them. He is interested in the sustainable management of marine and coastal resources, and how the science related to how these topics are communicated.

He received his Ph.D. in environmental science and policy from the University of Miami. He is an award-winning expert in public science engagement whose writings have appeared in the Washington Post, GIzmodo, Scientific American, and a monthly column in SCUBA Diving Magazine. 

He is also the author of Why Sharks Matter.

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