With so much to celebrate, the Seattle Aquarium expands World Oceans Day into an entire weekend filled with special talks, hands-on activities and a focus on ocean heroes—how to be one, as well as existing heroes in our local community. To reflect the idea of Earth’s one big ocean, our event is called World Ocean Weekend.
Taking place on June 11 and 12, 2016, World Ocean Weekend at the Seattle Aquarium was jam-packed with activities and attracted over 7,500 visitors. The weekend schedule featured diver shows in our 120,000-gallon Window on Washington Waters exhibit, octopus feedings, and marine mammal feedings—as well as activities focused on marine debris, ocean acidification and corals, all of which helped illustrate the fact that we’re all connected and have a role to play in caring for our one world ocean. Giveaways at the various activities promoted the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ Saving Animals From Extinction (SAFE™) program.
The weekend also include several extra-special highlights. One popular talk was devoted to Tucker, an olive ridley sea turtle that stranded on the Oregon coast in December and was brought to the Seattle Aquarium (Washington state’s only recognized sea turtle rehabilitation facility) for care. Tucker’s treatment was successful and, in May, he was transferred to SeaWorld in California to finish rehabilitation before being released back into the wild. His story provided a good opportunity to talk about our changing ocean.
Another weekend highlight came via one of our marine science interpreters, Lindsay Holliday, who was awarded a Science Communication Fellowship to join the crew of Exploration Vessel Nautilus, the ocean exploration and operation platform for Ocean Exploration Trust, as it conducted research in the northeast Pacific Ocean. Aquarium visitors were enthralled during a live streaming session with Lindsay, who described the work taking place on board the ship and answered questions from the audience. Thanks to Facebook Live, viewers from around the world could hear from Lindsay as well—and see the dizzying swell of the ocean through the porthole behind her!
Each year since 2012, the Seattle Aquarium has honored a local “ocean hero”—a business or organization that’s making a difference for Puget Sound and the ocean we all share. This year’s selected organization, chosen by a committee of Seattle Aquarium staff and volunteers, was the SeaDoc Society. Aquarium visitors had the opportunity to learn about the group’s many projects, including the recovery and removal of derelict fishing gear; restoration and population surveys of multiple marine species; contributions to efforts to establish individual health records for the Southern Resident orca population; and more. Audrey DeLella Benedict, SeaDoc Society board member and co-author of The Salish Sea: Jewel of the Pacific Northwest, published in 2015, was also on hand to meet visitors, talk about the organization’s work, and sign copies of her book.
As far as our younger guests were concerned, the weekend’s most exciting events were special appearances by the Octonauts, characters from an animated television series about animal adventurers living in an undersea base, who performed a show called To Your Stations. The Aquarium’s Puget Sound Hall was filled with the sights and sounds of delighted children during each of the six performances.
World Ocean Weekend at the Seattle Aquarium was a resounding success in 2016—and we look forward to making the 2017 event even better!