Ocean literacy and surfing: Understanding how interactions in coastal ecosystems inform blue space user’s awareness of the ocean
Journal article, Peer reviewed
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Original versionInternational Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health (IJERPH). 2021, 18 (11), 5819. 10.3390/ijerph18115819
Intergovernmental policy is targeting public ocean literacy to help achieve the societal changes needed to reach a sustainable ocean agenda within a 10-year timeframe. To create a culture of care for the ocean, which is under threat from Anthropocentric pressures, informed ocean citizens are central to upholding meaningful actions and best practices. This research focuses on recreational ocean users, specifically surfers and how their blue space activities may inform understanding of ocean processes and human-ocean interconnections. The Ocean Literacy Principles were used to assess ocean awareness through surfing interactions. An online survey questionnaire was completed by 249 participants and reduced to a smaller sample focus group. Qualitative and quantitative data were triangulated to develop further understanding of surfer experiences, using the social-ecological systems framework to model surfing outcomes. The results found that surfers indeed receive ocean literacy benefits, specifically three out of the seven Ocean Literacy Principles and that ocean literacy is a direct benefit many surfers in the sample group receive. By identifying synergies between the Ocean Literacy Principles, variables within coastal ecosystems and user (surfer) interactions, this research offers novel insight into opportunities for integrating ocean sustainability strategies through blue space activity mechanisms and coastal community engagement.