7 Ideas for Aquarium Celebrations

Looking for ideas to plan an amazing World Oceans Day event at your aquarium? Here are 7 great ways to celebrate based on actual events held at aquariums around the globe for World Oceans Day 2015.

1. Celebrate with a Costumed Character

Having a lovable ocean creature is a great way to attract kids and encourage them to care for the oceans. At Manly SeaLife Sanctuary in Manly, Australia, a “real life” mermaid and shark came to the World Oceans Day beach cleanup! This attracted the attention of other beach goers and families. Kids had to write a pledge for the ocean before they could take a picture next to a “real life” mermaid or shark. This encouraged kids to realize that anyone can help improve ocean health.

Photo Credit: Manly SEALIFE Sanctuary

2. Challenge for Personal Change

Across the world, at aquariums and other institutions thousands of people promised to give up plastic bags for a year with the Better Bag Challenge. At the North Carolina Aquarium at Fort Fisher, guests were given a free reusable bag to take home. They also had flyers kids could color and take home to remind their families to use reusable bags. The Wave foundation at the Newport Aquarium displayed a plastic bag in water, showing how turtles could easily mistake the bag for a jellyfish. They also gave away reusable bags.

3. Tickle their Taste buds

Though the ocean may seem vast and far away for many inland towns and cities, many of us enjoy the oceans bounty in the form of seafood. Nearly a billion people rely on seafood as their main source of protein! Share this important connection with visitors, through information on sustainable seafood. In 2015, the Monterey Bay Aquarium also encouraged sustainable seafood through their Seafood Watch program. Kids collected stamps around the aquarium and tasted seafood samples.

4. Create Competition

Some friendly competition can be motivational and help to engage the preteen and teen audience at your institution.  The Roundhouse Aquarium held their 3rd annual Fun Run for the Oceans on Manhattan Beach, California. Combining physical activity, educational programming and fundraising, this creative approach to raise ocean awareness inspired people of all ages. They even worked with the local school districts and media, providing prizes for the school with the most runners participating.

5. Shed Light on Science

Make science topics like ocean acidification, pollution and climate change accessible to your visitors. Conduct a science demonstration that will engage and excite even non-scientists. At the Oregon Coast Aquarium, staff dissected a long-snouted lancetfish and a broadnose sevengill shark teaching basics on anatomy and physiology of these amazing ocean creatures. Aquarium of the Pacific held a panel discussion inviting local scientists to discuss ocean issues with the public.

6. Engage in the Arts

Art is a great way to harness creativity, express feelings and values as well as garner attention. From crafts to murals, visitors can engage in art as a hands on way to share the importance of our oceans. At Ocean Park in Hong Kong, the public helped to collect thousand of bottle caps and create amazing murals. After the murals were completed even more visitors were involved through taking pictures and enjoying the art. S.E.A. Aquarium organized a nationwide Recycling Art Competition for primary and secondary school students. The sculptures were created using only recycled materials, increasing awareness of recycling and sustainability in a fun and interactive way. Check out our Pinterest board for some fun ocean craft ideas!

Photo Credit: Ocean Park Hong Kong

7. Incorporate the Animals

Research shows visitors are more likely to care about and listen to conservation messages when linked with a specific animal. Whether that’s sea turtles eating plastic bags or a bird ingesting bottle caps, the animal connection can be used to raise awareness and promote action.  At an aquarium you already have access to may marine animals so why not bring them into the celebration? At the Santa Monica Pier Aquarium there was a special shark feeding demonstration. At St. Lucie County Aquarium guests were encourage to interact with animals in the touch tank exhibit.

Once you have your event scheduled, be sure to register it here!

Abby Tripler 22-Mar-2016