Good, Better, and Best
News about practices for ocean observing
Issue 47: February 2023

Editor’s Note

Welcome to the first issue of 2023! I hope everyone had a chance to recharge and reset over the holidays in whatever ways work best for you.

This issue contains some of our popular sections (From the Repository, Success Story) as well as the debut of a new section that chronicles what we can learn from our mistakes… and of course news from all over the world as it relates to ocean practices.

Rachel Przeslawski

Steering Group Updates

New OBPS article

Are you new to the OBPS community or still not sure what we’re all about? Our friends at GOOS have written a great piece about the Ocean Best Practices System, and we want to share it far and wide! 

Fostering user communities
At our January meeting, the OBPS Steering Group was treated to an invited panel session focussing on how to foster user communities on best practices using different online tools. Jose Moutinho spoke of the many facets of the Atlantic International Research (AIR) Centre and how they’ve created a large, diverse and active network through their weekly webinars. Hans-Peter Plag shared a detailed description and methodologies of the social collaboration platform Place4Us.

The bad, the worse, and the ugly
It is well known that we learn more from our mistakes, and as humans, we are certainly experts at making them! Science is no exception, and yet we seldom publish these mistakes, if at all. Most of the research published shows the successful results we obtain while conducting science. The wisdom about the pitfalls and mistakes that can occur while carrying out our research is not published or communicated in any way, shape or form. Therefore, the same mistakes can be repeated by others, unaware that these could happen because no one has warned them. Communicating mistakes should be best practice to help others avoid them, and so we have created this new small section in our News Flash. The section is intended for the community to contribute, and we would like to invite everyone to do so. Don’t worry; you can make an anonymous contribution, and you are allowed to blame your pets/friends/family!

See our first contribution to this section below. If you would like to contribute to this section, please email, noting that we will not publish manufacturer’s names or other identifying details of equipment or institutions.

Ocean Practices

Ocean Practices is a new program in the UN Decade of Ocean Science. You can learn more about it from three of our scientists through our 2-minute video here

From the Repository – Traditional Knowledge

The knowledge held by First Nations peoples around the world is increasingly recognised as a crucial and long overdue component of science and management, as is the leadership of First Nations communities in these activities. It has now been exactly three years since we encouraged the OBPS community to submit practices related to Indigenous knowledge (see Issue 20 here). At that time there were only three practices related to this topic, and all of these were from Australia.

We are heartened to see a surge in the number of such practices submitted to the OBPS Repository since this time. The Repository now hosts dozens of practices focussed on Indigenous knowledge, partnership, and engagement from across the globe, many of these led by Indigenous authors. We would love for those who have been involved in or know about ocean practices relating to Indigenous groups to submit them to the OBP Repository.

Success Story – Community Review for Biogeochemical sensors

Sophie Clayton (Old Dominion University) and Hillary Palevsky (Boston College)

The Ocean Observatories Initiative (OOI) Biogeochemical (BGC) Sensor Data Best Practices and User Guide is the result of an NSF-funded (OCE2033919) grass-roots community effort to broaden the use of OOI biogeochemical sensor data and increase community capacity to produce analysis-ready data products. The guide includes five chapters: The Introduction (Chapter 1) provides information on the OOI program, including data access, processing, and recommended end user QA/QC relevant to all OOI biogeochemical sensors, and Chapters 2-5 cover the following groups of BGC variables and associated sensors: Dissolved oxygen, nitrate, carbonate chemistry, and bio-optics.

This effort brought together an international group of 39 ocean observing experts, across all career stages, from 19 institutions and 5 countries, each of whom brings expertise on biogeochemical sensors, data analysis and ocean observing infrastructure, as well as research expertise in ocean biogeochemistry. The initial OOI Biogeochemical Sensor Data (OOI BGC) Working Group was formed in July 2021 through an open application process. A three-day virtual meeting in July 2021 launched the Working Group, with consensus-building activities to develop the scope and structure of the Best Practices and User Guide. From July 2021 to June 2022, the Working Group drafted a beta version of the Best Practices and User Guide that went through two rounds of internal review within the Working Group. A draft version of this document was Beta Tested by 14 current and prospective OOI BGC data users, who joined the Working Group members for a 3-day workshop in June 2022 to provide feedback that has since been used in revising and finalizing the document.

The OOI Biogeochemical Sensor Data Best Practices and User Guide is now complete and is available on the OBPS Repository here. As a next step, we are seeking to gain GOOS endorsement of the document. In order to do so, the guide must undergo a rigorous community review process whereby comments are publicly invited and adjudicated. We now invite community members to review the guide and submit comments by February 28, 2023. After completing the open review, we will revise the document based on the reviewers’ comments and upload an updated, final version to OBPS.

We encourage feedback from everyone, including both disciplinary experts and users new to each of these sensor types, as well as both experienced and new users of OOI data. Reviewers are welcome to provide feedback on the entire document, or on chapters or sections that are of particular relevance to their interests or expertise.

How to review the OOI BGC Sensor Data Best Practices and User Guide:

We are aiming for a transparent and open community review process, and as such, all reviewer comments and responses to them will be public. We invite reviewers to provide feedback on the OOI Biogeochemical Sensor Data Best Practices and User Guide via two different pathways:

  • Reviewers may comment directly into a Google Doc version of the guide in the form of comments added to the text. This will be most useful for comments or to suggest revisions on specific sections of the text. We request that reviewers sign in via Google or include their name and email in their comments so that we can identify and, if needed, follow up with individuals providing reviews. 
  • Reviewers may submit lengthier and/or more overarching comments via an online form. All submissions to this form can be viewed here.

The Bad, the Worse, and the Ugly

Not all ADCPs are created equal
Ana Lara-Lopez

Early in my career, I worked with a vessel-mounted ADCP to use backscatter data to measure zooplankton biomass, in contrast to the velocity data which is the primary purpose of the ADCP. I therefore did not pay much attention to how this particular ADCP measured current velocity by using the vessel’s systems. When I started my PhD, I had a smaller and portable ADCP to play with, suitable for meso-tidal estuarine environment in which I was then working. I wanted to use both the velocity and the backscatter data to understand the dynamics of this estuary. I sampled every month for two years, collecting zooplankton and using the ADCP. I used a smallish steel prawn trawler with a steel pole attached to the vessel, specifically for the ADCP to do my sampling. If you are familiar with this instrument, you may have spotted my big mistake. It happens that these little cuties have an internal compass to help them detect the current’s direction. As you would imagine, the steel vessel and the pole where the ADCP was mounted messed up with its internal compass affecting all the current velocity and direction data collected over the sampling period. This meant I could only use the backscatter data, so there goes two years’ worth of velocity data!

My lesson was that not all instruments are created equal, always read the user’s manual and instrument specifications and never assume they all work and function in the same way, even if their purpose is to collect the same data.

I was lucky enough to collect additional ADCP data using a small aluminium dinghy with an aluminium pole, which allowed me to do interesting analyses and have a PhD thesis I could be proud of.

Feature – ECOPs and the Ocean Decade

Rebecca Zitoun

When we talk about the Ocean Decade, we talk about the ten Decade challenges that we have to overcome. And they are called challenges because we don’t yet know how to solve them. If we have any hope of solving them in the future, we need new ideas, new innovations, and new ways of doing things; and for that we need new thinkers. We need new people at the table, people who have previously been excluded, and we need a new generation that thinks inherently different from the last generation. To do that, we need a drastic systemic change, because to do the science we need for the ocean we want, we need a strong, confident, and diverse workforce to do that science. So we must train early career ocean practitioners (ECOPs) differently, we must give them a voice and ownership, and we must support our ECOPs so that they can actually lead. They should not be just a tick in an inclusion box or part of a program to balance out a quota; they must become actual leaders. How do we do this?

We must bring ECOPs to the table from the beginning to co-develop initiatives, programs, and working group topics from the get-go
We must bring ECOPs directly to global experts so they can learn from them about best practices etc first-hand through real, meaningful exchanges, not just via webinars.
We must create safe spaces where ECOPs feel heard and valued by all project members, so that they can voice uncertainties and ask for additional support.
We must help ECOPs whenever and wherever possible to take on high profile opportunities to further their careers.
Most importantly, we must create an ego free environment where people celebrate each other’s successes, where failure is a welcoming learning experience, and where we put people before outcomes.

We all need to be champions for ECOPs, focussing on nurturing their potential and pushing forward their creative ideas. If we do that, we will learn and grow with our ECOPs, we will advance our initiatives and programs with them, and we will indeed create the ocean that we need together.

[This article is from a recent keynote presentation delivered at the recent OceanPrediction kickoff meeting. Summaries from other keynotes can be viewed here.]


Jay Pearlman

This photo is from Hawaii Oahu north shore and shows the ocean and land interface – when an irresistible force meets an immovable object. The splash height is about 8 meters.

Other News

Two-eyed seeing

One of the richest sources of information that Indigenous People bring to knowledge-pairing partnerships are the direct, year-round observations made by people out on the land and on the sea, over many generations. A “two-edged seeing” approach that combines Indigenous and western knowledge systems is crucial for protecting the ocean, according to co-authors behind a new PLOS Biology Perspectives piece. Supported by Ocean Networks Canada (ONC), the paper acknowledges the marginalization and exploitation of Indigenous marine ocean knowledge acquired through millennia of lived experience and observation. It also identifies a path forward for pursuing genuine ocean science partnerships.

Read the paper co-authored by two OBPS SG Members here and the associated ONC article here.


Ocean Capacity Development Hub

The Ocean CD-Hub is  prototype online search engine which helps individuals and organizations (e.g., early career professionals, managers, technicians, government officials, schoolteachers, etc.) search for capacity development opportunities (e.g., awards, fellowships, grants, internships, teaching materials, trainings, etc.) offered around the world. Information available on the Ocean CD-Hub is sourced from publicly available information and contributions from UNESCO/IOC stakeholders.

Ocean observing and under-resourced countries

A new book chapter emphasises the role of ocean observations to the blue economy. Led by Juliet Hermes, ‘The Role of Sustained Ocean Observations to the Society and Blue Economy’ describes the need for and importance of ocean observations linked to the blue economy, using case studies to understand how under-resourced countries are facing the complex challenges of ocean observing.

Read the abstract and access the article via subscription here.

Essential Ocean Variable – Ocean Sound

The International Quiet Ocean Experiment announces the availability of the Ocean Sound EOV Implementation Plan for community input. The plan is available here. Please submit your comments by 15 February through one of two methods:

  • We prefer that you submit comments through a Google form, which provides a text box for input for each chapter:  Ocean Sound EOV Implementation Plan Feedback.
  • If you do not wish to cut and paste your comments into the Google form, or do not have access to Google, please submit your comments through a SurveyMonkey form. You can submit either a marked-up document or a document listing your suggestions in bullet format.

Meeting Summaries

Ocean Decade Collaborative Center & Coast Predict
Jay Pearlman

A kick-off meeting of the Ocean Decade Collaborative Center for coastal resilience and a general assembly of the Coast Predict Programme were held January 17-19 in the Univeristy of Bologna (Italy). The two actions focus on understanding the coastal environment across the globe. The basic concept of a Global Coastal Ocean was defined about a decade ago in The Sea (Vols. 10 to 14, Harvard University Press). The revised definition  of a coast ocean is that area, extending inshore from the estuarine mouths to river catchments affected by saltwaters and offshore from the surf zone to the continental shelf and slope where waters of continental origins meet open ocean currents.

The CoastPredict initiative has, among others, the challenge to define coastal areas of the global ocean where similar predictive solutions can be implemented, tested and evolved or, on the contrary, where different solutions are required. The first attempt to classify the different coastal areas of the world ocean was done by Robinson and Brink (2010):

This coarse grain classification gives an idea that four (or perhaps more) predictive systems could be required for solving issues of societal importance, using advanced science understanding and solutions. The requirements could be different in terms of both observing and modelling systems as well as for the predictability.

One of the key concepts to be used in building the CoastPredict Programme implementation is the “Ocean Value Chain” process. CoastPredict will enhance the “basic information infrastructure” because it will develop integrated ocean-to-coastal-ocean prediction services that will be based on openly available large scale prediction information.

To test and validate the value of coastal predictions and services, CoastPredict is defining the Global Coastal Experiment in which pilot sites are  engaged to test all aspects of the observation and forecast value chain and the services created. The framework for CoastPredict includes: seamless models and observations at all scales; information Infrastructure (CORIS*), best practices and standards (OBPS); and globally integrated observing and prediction. These come with many challenges:

  • Fragmented coastal observing
  • Need for many different scales (geometric, time, cultures)
  • Needs for a broad range of disciplines, skills, communities (writ large)
  • Need for validation and foundation for trust
  • Diverse infrastructure capabilities

These and other topics were highlighted during presentations and discussion sessions at the meeting. There was a consensus to address these challenges and  to move forward with the Global Coastal Experiment. 

OceanTeacher Global Academy Steering Group

The third meeting of the Steering Group for the OceanTeacher Global Academy (SG-OTGA) was held from 21-23 November. This hybrid meeting reviewed the activities of the 17 OTGA Regional and Specialized Training Centres. During 2022, a total of 29 online training courses were delivered by the global network with over 2200 applications received and more than 1300 learners enrolled in courses which were delivered in English, Spanish and Portuguese. In addition, 17 online training courses were hosted by the OTGA e-learning platform on behalf of partner organizations. The SG-OTGA prepared a work plan for the 2023-24 period and elected Mr Udaya Bhaskar (RTC India) and Mr Aidy Muslim (RTC Malaysia) as Co-chairs for the next intersessional period. Further information is available here.

Upcoming Events


Please regularly check the Events section of our webpage for updates.