Global warming skeptics and climate change deniers can go to the back of the room. For the rest of us on planet Earth, World Oceans Day 2018 (June 8) is our chance to give props to our oceans, say we're sorry for letting our plastic trash invade its space, and promise to do better next time.
It's an international initiative and participating organizations are recognizing the day in different ways. Here along the Texas Gulf Coast we've got a film and lecture at the Houston Museum of Natural Science, celebrations at the Downtown Aquarium (as well as the one in Kemah), and a festival on the ocean's doorstep in Galveston.
We checked in with Kendall Guidroz, education program coordinator of the Galveston-based Artist Boat, a nonprofit that works to protect our Gulf Coast through education and adventures (think kayaking and Bucket Brigade Beach Tours). It's their third year participating in World Oceans Day and they're pulling out all the stops on June 8 with live music, interactive booths, a marine debris art contest, yoga on the beach and a marine touch tank.
Guidroz says the international focus this year is on preventing plastic pollution. Marine life gets entangled in debris, rain and wind can sweep trash into waterbodies, and animals can mistake plastic for food. But nobody wants to be lectured, so the Artist Boat turns the day into an exploration, making it a fun festival experience.
She also says it's not too late to turn things around for our planet. "Every time someone chooses to use plastic or chooses to not dispose of it properly it has an impact on our oceans. Every time someone recognizes the impact they have and use a sustainable alternative, it makes a difference," says Guidroz.
Over at the Houston Museum of Natural Science they're screening Chasing Coral, a project that used more than 500 hours of underwater footage and studied coral bleaching samples off the coast of 30 countries. Emma Hickerson, a researcher at NOAA's Flower Garden Banks and Marine Sanctuary (and who is featured in the film) will be on hand June 6 for this one-night-only screening.
The HMNS also has scheduled a June 5 lecture, "Texas' Own Coral Reefs: Weathering the Storm," with Dr. Adrienne Correa, assistant professor in the BioSciences department at Rice University. Dr. Correa will explore the ecological impact of severe weather events, including last year when Hurricane Harvey dumped 13 trillion gallons of rain on southeast Texas.
The Downtown Aquarium has planned a day of activities including scavenger hunts, animal feedings, dive shows and much more. The Aquarium in Kemah also has planned keeper chats and a chance to touch the slimy, squiggly, wiggly creatures in the sea life touch tank.
So, how to help? Reduce, reuse and recycle. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, always dispose of waste properly, no matter where you are. Get involved and participate in local cleanups in your area. And remember that our land and sea are connected.
Oh, and stop sucking and skip the straw on your next beverage order.
World Oceans Day 2018 events in Houston, Galveston and Kemah:
June 5, Lecture: "Texas' Own Coral Reefs: Weathering the Storm," Houston Museum of Natural Science, 5555 Hermann Park, 713-639-4629, hmns.org, $18.
June 6, 6 p.m., Film screening of Chasing Coral, Houston Museum of Natural Science, 5555 Hermann Park, 713-639-4629, hmns.org, $18.
June 8, 10 a.m.-2 p.m., Family class - World Oceans Day, Houston Museum of Natural Science, 5555 Hermann Park, 713-639-4629, hmns.org (sold out).
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June 8, 4-8 p.m., Artist Boat World Oceans Day Festival, Stewart Beach, 201 Seawall Boulevard, Galveston, 409-770-0722, artistboat.org/world-oceans-day-festival, free.
June 8, 10 a.m.-4 p.m., World Oceans Day Celebration, Downtown Aquarium Houston, 410 Bagby, 713-223-3474, aquariumrestaurants.com/downtownaquariumhouston.
June 8, 11 a.m.-4 p.m., World Oceans Day Celebration, Aquarium Restaurant - Kemah, 11 Kemah Boardwalk, Kemah, 281-334-9010, aquariumrestaurants.com/aquariumkemah.
For more information, visit worldoceansday.org.