The first episode of the animated series 'Max and his friends in: ‘Discovering the Sea’ was recently released. This series was created through a partnership between AtlantECO, through the Federal University of São Carlos (UFSCar) in Brazil, and the University's Institute of Scientific Culture (ICC). The project's primary objective is to support research related to the preservation of the marine microbiome and the dissemination of oceanic culture. To achieve this goal, they launched this children's series that provides information about the benefits to humankind offered by the sea, the issue of plastic waste in the ocean, and the significance of this biome in regulating the Earth's temperature.
In the series, Max Plankton is a curious zooplankton who loves to explore the ocean to gain a deeper understanding of its depths and also to make new friends. Max is accompanied by Emiliana and Juba, his inseparable friends, as they journey from the southern ocean to Abrolhos, in Bahia. Along the way, the group encounters new characters, their stories, and the challenges of living in the sea. The first episode, titled ‘The sea we breathe’, introduces Max, Juba (a humpback whale), and Emiliana (phytoplankton) as they learn about the microorganisms inhabiting the sea and the crucial services they provide to the planet, such as carbon dioxide capture and photosynthesis.
Throughout the series, the deep-sea inhabitants engage in conversations with AtlantECO scientists to seek answers to their questions and learn from experts. In this initial chapter, Hugo Sarmento (left in the pictures below), professor at the Department of Hydrobiology at UFSCar, educates the characters on microorganisms, their role in environmental health, and the importance of conserving the marine microbiome. In subsequent episodes, there will be contributions from Andrea Freire (picture in the middle), professor at the Federal University of Santa Catarina (UFSC), and Rubens Lopes (picture on the right), professor at the University of São Paulo (USP)
The series has been in production for the last year, with all the content and scripts prepared in alignment with basic education standards. Upcoming episodes, ‘Plastic on the Way to the Sea’ and ‘Hot Wind and Cold Rain’ will address issues such as the excessive plastic pollution in the sea and its impact on the marine biome, as well as the ocean's essential role in regulating the Earth's climate.
Sarmento believes that initiatives like this series are crucial for promoting oceanic culture and shedding light on aspects that affect everyone's lives. He emphasizes the significance of beginning with schools and children since they carry these concepts forward to future generations and share them with adults at home, passing on the messages to all members of the society. According to the professor, this is a substantial effort with the long-term goal of raising awareness and knowledge about the ocean and its significance for all of us.
The episodes is freely accessible on the UFSCar Official YouTube channel, a valuable supplementary teaching material for teachers. All episodes are subtitled in Portuguese, English, and Spanish. Mariana Pezzo, the Director of the ICC, expresses her joy in launching the series after months of hard work, considering it a celebration of the ICC's two years of operation. She sees this as a testemony to the potential of the model they have envisioned for the Institute's operations, in collaboration with the research community, to offer specialised support in preparing knowledge for more impactful and transformative dialogues with diverse audiences.