In Portugal, there is not a strong tradition of national production of documentaries about science, and even less documentaries about scientific research carried out in Portugal. For this reason, the broadcasting on SIC television channel of the new documentary "Nature Labs"is excellent news for science and for science communication. All the more so because was distinguished with an Honorable Mention in the category Ecology and Biodiversity at VIII International Tourism Film Festival Art&Tura festival which, this year had 256 films at Call, from 54 countries.
The documentary follows five research projects and about 30 scientists from the University of Aveiro. It is divided into five chapters: "Marine endangered species", "Nanoparticles - the invisible dangers", "The threat of multi-resistant bacteria", "The Baixo Vouga Lagoon - Biodiversity Reserve" and "Life in the deep seas". It resulted from an original idea by Joaquim Pedro Ferreira and Paulo Caetano, authors of several books on the dissemination of science on natural life and biodiversity, and also authors of the documentary. Their goal was to show how biologists contribute to the well-being of society and to a better relationship with the living world. Joaquim Pedro Ferreira is a FCT post-doctoral fellow in the area of Science Communication and this documentary is part of his research project.
Filming for the documentary took place over the course of 16 months, following the research projects as they projects as they took place. Of the five projects treated, three are or were supported by FCT. One of the projects is coordinated by an FCT researcher, selected at Call of 2013. Isabel Henriques studies the risks associated with the spread of antibiotic-resistant bacteria from hospitals to the aquatic environments of the Vouga River, and seeks solutions to minimize these risks.
Another project funded by FCT, coordinated by Ana Hilário, seeks to identify how different species live on the seabed. To simulate the habitat of whale carcasses on the ocean floor, the team placed cow carcasses in the Setúbal canyon. They collected them a year later to analyze what kind of organisms had colonized the carcasses.
Carlos Fonseca's team investigates the unique habitat of farmland surrounded by hedgerows. These habitats are home to a wide variety of animals, including frogs, mice and bats, foxes, ginets and otters. By identifying and tracking these animals, the researchers hope to contribute to the sustainable coexistence of agriculture and biodiversity.
Knowing the effects of nanoparticles used in sports jerseys and sunscreens, for example, on the environment and on health is the goal of Susana Loureiro and her team.
The documentary also follows the team of biologists who, under the coordination of Catarina Eira, rescue animals such as dolphins, sea turtles and even seals that wash up on the Portuguese coast, trying to identify the main threats to these species.
(Credits: Universidade de Aveiro and Terra Líquida Filmes)