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Connect Ocean Crowdsources Conservation Through Citizen Science

What’s the recipe for crafting regenerative communities to foster conservation in all ecosystems? From observation skills to collecting data points, citizen scientists are contributing to the mapping of ocean ecosystems in their own backyards.

The ocean covers 71 percent of Earth, but collectively little is known about it. In this Ocean podcast episode, Ernst van der Poll, Founder and CEO of Connect Ocean, talks with Host Kate Wing from Guanacaste Province, Costa Rica about successful ways to connect people with the ocean, offering experiences from the beach to the depths. Using STEM education and new technology, Connect Ocean is inspiring new explorers to gather data and expand their knowledge of marine ecosystems in their own backyards. Connect Ocean is setting the stage for community scientists to make a difference and have an impact where they live.

"How inappropriate to call this planet Earth when it is quite clearly ocean.”
- Arthur C. Clarke

Ernst began his work in Dubai, where he founded Tawasul to encourage youth to put down their digital devices and get outside and connect with nature. He worked to get people underwater, from first bubbles in a pool to the first dive into the ocean, in under an hour, followed by education and skill development. Now Ernst works to connect scientists and communities to gather critical data and take action.

In a project in the Tampa Bay, Florida area, local participants used a marine debris identification app to explore the intertidal zone and collect trash. .. They then shared that data with a coalition of NGOs, known as Suncoast Rise Above Plastics, that are working to stop single-use plastic.

Tune in to learn more about developing guidebooks for all inclusive participatory science as a force in overall conservation practices. Hear how participants are making an impact on climate and ocean by learning to map and better understand their local ecosystems via technology and exploration.


Ernst Van der Poll is an Ocean Explorer and PADI Course Director with more than 10,000 dives experience. He grew up on the shores of Africa’s east coast and the Ocean is part of his professional life ever since.

During his 14 years in the Middle East, Ernst founded Tawasul, the very first marine-themed, place based experiential learning program in the region. The program engaged more than 2000 kids from 2002 to 2011, many of whom are studying marine sciences now. He was also appointed personal diving instructor and safety officer for the Crown Prince of Dubai and worked with Palestinian refugees with physical disabilities.

After moving to Costa Rica, he founded ConnectOcean and one of the first All ability diving programs in Central America, helping people with life changing injuries to enjoy the Ocean through scuba diving.

Today, Ernst conducts Corporate Team Building and CSR programs, and keeps on teaching scuba diving as his schedule permits. He collaborates with many internationally renowned educators, researchers and innovators in order to inspire the next generation of environmentalists and leaders.

Connect Ocean

Ernst van der Poll - Founder and CEO - ConnectOcean | LinkedIn

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Kate Wing

Kate Wing is the founder of Intertidal Agency, a design and strategy consulting firm for the ocean including policy, philanthropy, and conservation technology enterprises and accelerators.



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