World Oceans Day celebration set at MERR June 8 

June 2, 2019

The public is invited to celebrate World Oceans Day with the Marine Education, Research and Rehabilitation Institute Saturday, June 8, and learn about the various ways to help lessen the presence of plastic and its impact on marine life.

The day’s activities will begin with a beach cleanup, after which participants can meet back at the MERR offices at 10:30 a.m. for an art installation, educational activities and fun for younger participants, and short films focused on the importance of reducing plastic products. The event will conclude with a film followed by a presentation at 1 p.m. with guest speaker John Ososky, the Smithsonian Institution’s collection manager of marine mammals at the National Museum of Natural History in Washington, D.C. His role is to collect and analyze all marine mammal bones donated to the museum to gather valuable information on species, their habitat, and outside influences that may pose a threat. 

Groups will meet at two locations, Beach Plum Island and Cape Henlopen State Park, for the cleanup. Those coming out for the Cape Henlopen Clean should meet at the fishing pier.  Both cleanups will begin at 8:30 a.m., and participants are asked to dress according to weather forecasts. Ocean-friendly sunscreen (Sun Bum Reef Friendly Oxybenzone Free, Thinksport Non-Nano Zinc Oxide, Blue Lizard Sunscreen, Raw Elements Non-Nano Zinc Oxide Reef Safe Biodegradable, and Kokua Sun Care Natural Zinc Sunscreen)​ and non-aerosol bug spray are recommended. All participants will receive biodegradable bags to collect the waste.  

Festivities will commence at the MERR building, 801 Pilottown Road, at 10:30 a.m., where attendees can take part in a collective art project called Trash Talking Turtles, using debris found during the cleanup. They will help create art as part of a worldwide educational project that began with a group of students from Virginia Beach and the Virginia Aquarium and Science Center. 

A green sea turtle, later named Kermit, came ashore in the state with large amounts of trash in his throat. After its successful removal, a group of nearby high school students took on an art project that was displayed throughout the state. Using the items collected for this year’s cleanup, participants will be invited to create Trash Talking Turtles for display on the MERR premises. 

The event will include a coloring corner, face painting, and a mini Ocean Film Festival featuring fun, informative films. The films are suitable for all ages, and will range from animated to documentary with the idea being to educate viewers about the dangers the ocean faces from plastic pollution, and ways they can make changes in their lives to help.

The award-winning documentary “A Plastic Ocean” will be screened at Cannon Lab Room 104 at 12:15 p.m. This acclaimed documentary began as a study of the elusive blue whale, but focused on the amount of plastic waste found in the water in the process. Featuring an international team of scientists and researchers, and shot in more than 20 locations around the globe, the film sparked a worldwide movement focused on the fragile ocean state, and offers solutions that can be put into immediate effect to promote change.

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