Good, Better, and Best

A Newsletter for Practices of Ocean Observing & Applications
Issue 30: December 2020

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You won't be missed, 2020!

It give me some joy and relief to say this: Welcome to the final issue of 2020!

The ocean best practice community is truly global, and so our experiences this year have of course all been different (and continue to be so). For me, the year started with horrific bushfires followed by an amazingly destructive hailstorm, then capped by a global pandemic. For all of us, the pandemic has changed our lives, and many are still struggling with dramatic fallout from it. I know it’s just an arbitrary calendar date, but there is a unifying sense of hope and optimism that 2021 will be better and that we’ll have not only recovered – but learned from everything that this year threw at us!

I hope you all get a well-deserved break and a chance to reset and recharge over these next few weeks!

Updates from the Steering Group

Next Issue

We’re taking January off! The next issue of Good, Better, Best will be sent out at the beginning of February. You can of course submit content at any time on any subject of likely interest to the ocean best practice community. This can be a feature article, a meeting summary, a photo, or even just notice of an upcoming meeting. Please email newsletter submissions to Rachel at

New Facebook Page

We’ve now got a Facebook page so you can follow new happenings in the ocean best practice community. If you’ve got something you’d like to share, please email or send a private message to the FB page. If you’re not a Facebook person (or you just can’t get enough of ocean best practices), you can also follow us on Twitter.

Journal Update

Currently 22 papers have been published to Frontiers of Science research theme on Best Practices in Ocean Observing. The most recent additions are a new best practice, the GO-SHIP repeat hydrography nutrient manual, and an article on the contribution of EMODnet Chemistry to datasets for the European Seas. Our research theme now shows more than 81,000 views! Consider submitting your own article to our theme and sharing your work with the international community.

OBPS Success Story - GOOS-Endorsed Best Practices

Juliet Hermes

The use of the term "Best Practice" raises many questions. People may have a good method, but they don’t know if it is ”best”, or if there are multiple methods that try to do the same thing. How do they know which one to use? There are many different types of best practices available, from manuals to publications and workshop reports. But which have been through a community review? A peer review does not necessarily constitute a community review, how do you know which one is recommended by the expert community related to your field?

Global Ocean Observing System (GOOS) and its components actively encourage their communities to develop best practices across the lifecycle of ocean observation, from mission design through to delayed mode quality control. Collectively these can be viewed as recognised GOOS community best practices, that have undergone a rigorous process of community review and consensus building for the specified application, Essential Ocean Variable, Essential Biodiversity Variable, Essential Climate Variable, observing platform, or sensor. These broadly and often globally-adopted community best practices are tried and tested methods that are fit for the purpose defined and fully satisfy the definition of a best practice. However, there needs to be a clear means of identifying these key best practices within fora such as the Ocean Best Practice System (OBPS). In fact, this is a feature has been repeatedly requested by the ocean community during the Best Practice workshops.

During the last year GOOS, working with the OBPS, have developed a process to do exactly this, to enable GOOS community best practices to be identified and made available via a search function in the OBPS. This process enables key GOOS community best practices to be endorsed as a ‘GOOS’ best practice for a specific function. In the process this has improved the metadata for OBPS submission and will provide new search parameters around community endorsed best practices in the OBPS.
In order to be a GOOS endorsed best practice a number of steps must be followed:

  1. A rigorous community review process whereby comments are publicly invited,  adjudicated and actioned by the author;
  2. After the review, approval by the leadership of the relevant Observation Coordination Group network, expert team or other community leaders; 
  3. It is fit for the purpose and fully satisfies the definition of a best practice on the OBPS;
  4. It has been recognised through the relevant GOOS body;
  5. It is available and identifiable within the OBPS repository, or will be submitted as soon as endorsement is received; and
  6. It is updated at relevant timeframes.
This GOOS endorsement process was approved by the GOOS steering committee in September 2020, and the process is currently being piloted (more details here). Two documents have been successfully endorsed and are currently in open access journals with a GOOS-endorsed acknowledgement:

We will update in April as to the tagging system within the OBPS and any newly endorsed best practices.

Feature - Where Animal Telemetry Meets Sponges

Fred Whoriskey, Executive Director, Ocean Tracking Network

The maintenance of ocean infrastructures for monitoring and research is expensive and time-consuming. For those who maintain such infrastructures—including our team at the
Ocean Tracking Network (OTN)deriving the maximum value from these investments is an important trust, especially where public funding is invested in the platforms.

For OTN, it is important to foster connections and form partnerships with institutions and individuals to leverage OTN resources and help meet broader research, education, or industry goals in Canada and around the world. OTN was launched in 2008 with funding from the Canada Foundation for Innovation to create a global electronic telemetry system to document the movements and survival of aquatic animals and link the movements to environmental conditions. OTN is headquartered at Dalhousie University in Halifax, Nova Scotia. OTN-affiliated researchers primarily use acoustic telemetry, which involves tagging animals with acoustic tags, releasing them, and following their movements and survival through detections of the tags on acoustic receivers in key ocean and freshwater locations around the globe.

OTN operates approximately 2000 moored receivers of its own, including equipment loaned to researchers around the globe to foster connections to existing receiver arrays and create a truly global tracking coverage. Researchers using OTN infrastructure generate new knowledge (fundamental science) and assist in providing applied results to support fisheries management and planning for sustainable development of the ocean (a.k.a. "Blue Growth").

OTN receiver moorings are mostly fitted with acoustic releases and flotation collars, placed near the ocean floor, and serviced on a regular basis. They provide habitat for a diversity of encrusting flora and fauna, which can be a major problem for us if enough biomass forms to occlude the equipment or prevent it from surfacing when an acoustic release is triggered. We had, for some time, been reaching out to researchers studying biodiversity or biofouling about whether samples of the flora and fauna from these moorings would be of interest, however, we received no tangible expression of interest until we found the Horizon 2020 SponGES project.

OTN's Halifax Line—our longest acoustic receiver array and comprised of > 250 individual moorings — spans more than 200 kilometers from Halifax to the Scotian Shelf break. This array provides a gate to detect acoustically tagged animals moving along the shelf, and it became  of interest to sponge researchers when it was realized that it  passes through an area identified by scientists at Fisheries and Oceans Canada’s  Bedford Institute of Oceanography (BIO) as prime habitat for the Russian Hat sponge (Vazella pourtalesii).
I first learned of the
Horizon 2020 SponGES project and its work on Russian Hat sponges from an early morning radio interview with one of the principal investigators, BIO’s Ellen Kenchington. The goal of the international SponGES consortium is to develop an integrated ecosystem-based approach to preserve and sustainably use deep-sea sponge ecosystems of the North Atlantic Ocean. The interview I heard with Ellen was live from a cruise on the CCGS Hudson, where she and her team were using a deep diving remotely operated vehicle (ROV) to examine the habitat of the sponge grounds off Halifax and to bring live animals to the surface—a tedious and difficult procedure that can obtain only a few specimens at a time. Realizing that mobilizing the Hudson and the ROV on a regular basis for sponge work would not be possible due to competing demands, I reached out to the BIO team to see if they would be interested in examining some of our Halifax Line moorings for sponges as we serviced them. They leapt at the chance, and the first mooring the OTN technical team brought to the surface was thick with sponges.

It quickly became clear that the moorings offered unique opportunities for the SponGES researchers to obtain samples. Because we knew when the moorings went into the water, an understanding of when the sponges settled and what their growth rates were could be established for the first time. Tissue samples from the animals have been distributed throughout the consortium to enable a variety of reproduction and molecular genetics studies, and whole live animals have been returned to the laboratory where tests can be conducted   under controlled conditions. While the science is still ongoing, important new knowledge from these samples is already becoming available to the science community and to managers and policy makers dealing with the conservation of sponge grounds (see the links below).

OTN now keeps in regular contact with the BIO team to maintain an ongoing flow of sponge samples for their work and to be distributed through them to the international community. One groups' biofouling problem is another's treasure trove of
scientific opportunity. The work of the SponGES team has added significant value to the OTN platform, and we look forward to continuing to support sponge researchers into the future.


Other News 


Stein Sandven

CAPARDUS is a Coordination and Support Action with the goal to explore ongoing processes of developing standards in selected topics of importance in the Arctic. The project will develop a Comprehensive Framework Model for development of standards, guidelines and practices related to observing systems and data sharing in the Arctic. Furthermore, the project aims to design an Arctic Practice System (APS), which will be a repository of documents (or other communication media) that is searchable on titles, keywords and content. The APS will be a tool for co-production of knowledge between scientists, local communities and other stakeholder groups involved in the case studies of the project. Project activities are focused on natural resource management, safety, community planning and decision making and tourism. 


Francoise Pearlman
The Joint European Research Infrastructure of Coastal Observatories (JERICO) strengthens the European network of coastal observatories by providing a powerful infrastructure dedicated to observe and monitor the complex marine coastal seas. A harmonized e-handbook of best practices for Ocean Best Practices System (OBPS) repository will be produced for mature coastal observing platforms. The handbook will include the methods and an assessment of the readiness level of the Best Practices for each platform.
The JERICO team has been articulating a strategy for developing the harmonized Best Practice Handbook, focusing on four mature platform types: HF Radars, gliders, ferry boxes, and fixed platforms, with the following considerations:
  • The four observing platforms types are quite different;
  • Gliders and ferry boxes may host very different type of sensors, while fixed platforms may host almost every kind of sensor so that a core set needs to be defined; and
  • There are many different deliverables and manuals with “best practice” or “harmonization” objectives; the history of these documents is not evident.
The strategy for the Handbook content includes three steps: 1) use the OBPS template for document formats and metadata (see OBPS document on
BP for BPs); 2) include Best Practices documents according to topics such as platform deployment/recovery, platform/sensor balance, Essential Ocean Variables, maintenance, calibration, power management, etc; 3) select areas of specific practice related to coastal observations.
Our plans going forward are to: 
  • Assess the guidelines from BP4BPs;
  • Use “workshops of opportunity” between platforms to solidify strategy, and then create the Best Practice Handbook;
  • Undertake a broad community peer review;
  • Release the Handbook through the Ocean Best Practices System - an embedded resource within the JERICO e-Infrastructure/virtual access framework.


Earthzine is a science outreach magazine under the IEEE Oceanic Engineering Society (OES), providing up-to-date information on science, technology, Earth/Ocean observation and information utilization and those participating and contributing to it’s advancement. Earthzine is run by volunteers of the IEEE OES. It is updated regularly with news spanning
  • Earth and Oceans and their observation,
  • Environmental policy,
  • Education,
  • Career and Mentorship, and
  • Oceanic Engineering society events.

Indigenous Engagement

A recent paper published in Frontiers of Marine Science examines the perceptions, motivations and practices for Indigenous engagement in marine science in Australia. The authors surveyed 128 members of the marine science community and identified a number of challenges and opportunities if positive aspirations for engagement are to be converted to respectful, long-term and mutually beneficial engagement.

See our
February issue in which we covered best practices related to Traditional Ecological Knowledge.

Best Practices Cooking 

If you have a recipe or culinary tip to share, please send it to

Ceviche Best Practices
From Julie Pearlman
  • Fish (see here for a list of suitable types)
  • Tomato
  • Onion
  • Jalapeño
  • Pepper
  • Lime juice
  • Cucumber (optional)
  • Salt
  • Olive oil
  • Avocado
  • Fresh herbs
  1. Cut the fish into long strips and then dice into small cubes;
  2. Combine fish with tomato, onion, jalapeño, cucumber, pepper and lime juice. Do not add salt (this draws water out of the fish), avocado (these get bashed around too much when tossing) or olive oil (this dilutes the acidity of the lime juice and slows down the cooking too much);
  3. Gently mix, then set aside for 5 minutes to let the lime “cook” the fish;
  4. Add olive oil, avocado, fresh herbs, salt then gently mix;
  5. Serve immediately.

Poet's Corner

Ocean Best Practice Haiku

Jay Pearlman

The ocean grey
Reflecting an angered sky
Hides the porpoises jumping

Meeting Summary - UN Ocean Decade Programs – Synergies and Opportunities (OceanObs Research Coordination Network)

A virtual workshop with two sessions was organized by the Ocean Obs Research Coordination Network on December 4 with 62 global participants to offer visibility into programmes that are planning  a response to the Programme Call of the Ocean Decade. The meeting offered the opportunity for participants to discuss possible synergies and complementarity between their programs.

The workshop started with an introduction to the UN Ocean Decade by Ariel Troisi, chair of the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission, followed by Alison Clausen (IOC programme specialist) and Albert Fischer (IOC/Director of the GOOS Project Office), who offered insight into the
Implementation Plan and the call for Programmes. Following the introductions,  twenty-nine summaries of proposed programmes were presented by representatives at the workshop. Many of these proposed programmes mentioned their interest in best practices as part of their formulation. One presentation, given by Mark Bushnell and Johannes Karstensen of the OBPS, introduced a programme focused on best practices. Readers interested in further information should contact OBPS.

Upcoming Events

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The Ocean Best Practice System supports the entire ocean community in sharing methods and developing best practices. We provide publication, discovery and access to relevant and tested methods, from observation to application, as well as a foundation for increasing capacity. We are working towards all observations being taken by known and adopted methodologies.

A future where there are broadly adopted methods across ocean research, operations, and applications
The Ocean Best Practice System supports the entire ocean community in sharing methods and developing best practices. We provide publication, discovery and access to relevant and tested methods, from observation to application, as well as a foundation for increasing capacity. We are working towards all observations being taken by known and adopted methodologies.

A future where there are broadly adopted methods across ocean research, operations, and applications
Copyright © 2020 UNESCO/IOC IODE, All rights reserved.

Newsletter Editor: Rachel Przeslawski

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