It's a word inherent in our city's name, but not often do we think about the ocean that makes the sandy stretch Long Beach is known for or the symbiotic interaction us humans have with it. But the water that abuts the coast from Santa Barbara to San Diego is home to both wildlife as well as a variety of industrial and recreational activities, making it a quinticential urban ocean.
And for two days a year, the Aquarium of the Pacific--which has incorporated education, culture and community engagement into its core ethos--hosts the Urban Ocean Festival, a multi-faceted event inspired by the bustling waters off our shore.
The fourth annual Urban Ocean Festival will include boat cruises, music, film, mural painting, sustainable seafood cooking demonstrations, poetry and a fashion show featuring pieces made from trash. Most activities take place inside of the Aquarium itself and are included with the cost of admission.
"We do boat tours all the time showcasing the wildlife that depends on this coast and we wanted to connect the human aspect," says Marilyn Padilla, Director of Public Relations for the Aquarium. "This is the most intensely used ocean in the world...and if we want to create change, we have to make the problems relevant to people."
Every Aquarium resource will be utilized over the course of the event, from the short film that will be projected in the Great Hall to the poetry cruise which leaves from an adjacent dock Saturday at 4PM. The Aquarium's Seafood of the Future program will also present demos each day that show how ceviche and other dishes can be made with the rock fish, squid, octopus, rock crab and spiny lobster caught more than 10 miles offshore.
"Southern California is home to smaller, more artisnal fisheries and that's why they can be more sustainable," says Kim Thompson, Seafood for the Future's Program Manager. "Most of these fisheries don't want to have to export their product. The integrity of their product relies on the freshness of getting it to restaurants on shore. But it's also about creating consumer demand and training people to diversify their pallete."
Savor chefs present cooking demonstrations using fish procured through the Seafood for the Future program. Photo by Lydia Chain.
The Trashin Fashion Show and Contest will also take place on Sunday in the Honda Blue Cavern exhibit, featuring clothing made with recycled materials. Mar Vista resident Marina DeBris is entering a corset and hoop-skirt outfit she crafted out of rope, nets, canvas and other textiles found in Ballona Creek and at the Great Pacific Garbage Patch.
"The goal is to get the word out that this is stuff that should not be out there in the ocean," she says. "Everybody does beach cleanups, but that's not what this is about. It's about being responsible for the stuff that we buy in the first place."
Festival events and activities also serve as an unofficial kick-off for the Aquarium's Urban Ocean: World Port and Sea Life Cruises, which are held every month throughout the summer, showcasing the world ships and sea lions that mingle on our urban ocean.
For a full schedule of the Urban Ocean Festival's events--including times fore the Urban Ocean Cruise, Trashin Fashion show and demos, click here. For more information on this summer's Urban Ocean: World Port and Sea Life Cruises, visit aquariumofthepacific.org.
Top photo: Blanka Buic models Marina DeBris' contribution to the Trashin Fashion show. Photo by Lydia Chain.