6th Annual Urban Ocean Festival to Feature Local Artists, Eye-Opening Boat Cruise and Fashionable Trash


Photo by Asia Morris.

The Aquarium of the Pacific’s Sixth Annual Urban Ocean Festival will take place this Saturday and Sunday, May 2 and 3 from 9:00AM to 5:00PM.

Festival visitors will get the chance to explore what makes the Pacific waters off Southern California distinctly “urban” with the help of aquarium experts, an Urban Ocean Poetry boat cruise, a Trashin’ Fashion Show using recycled materials and an art exhibition.

The Urban Ocean Poetry boat cruise will take place on the first day of the festival, Saturday, at 2:30PM. It will feature poetry readings interspersed throughout the tour stops.

During the inaugural Urban Ocean Cruise of the summer season, participants can motor by the massive international ships harbored at one of the nation’s busiest port complexes, sail around the shores of both Long Beach and San Pedro, and get up close and personal with sunbathing sea lions and curious gulls. All of this can happen while winding a way under the Gerald Desmond Bridge to see how wildlife and the city’s largest economic engine coexist.

The Trashin’ Fashion Show on Sunday will feature innovative designs by artists looking to draw attention to the amount of waste humans create, whether it’s getting viewers to realize that soft plastic bags are difficult to recycle, or how much time a plastic water bottle will spend in a landfill if it’s not recycled properly. Gowns and garments made of newspaper, trash bags, tape, plastic straws, string, cellophane, spoons, shower curtains and other found materials will be showcased down the runway in the Honda Blue Cavern at 1:20PM.

The winners of the Urban Ocean Art Contest will display their works in the Great Hall and will also be displaying other works for sale.

Rebecca Li took the winning image, "Peekaboo," last year while she was searching for gray whales and dolphins off the coast of Dana Point on a "gloomy" and rainy day.


Photo courtesy of Rebecca Li.

“Suddenly out of the corner of my eye I saw this little guy popping out in the middle of nowhere, teasing me," she said. "As soon as I would take out my camera it would just swim back into the water. So it was really just this one shot and I was very happy when I got it."

She said she thought it was probably searching for food, but was concerned because of the high amount of boat traffic that endangered its route.

"I was able to see a lot of dolphins and other animals that had a lot of scars on them, so the safety for these animals is a big concern along this coast,” she said. 

Michelle Lilly won first place for her self portrait, which said she painted because walking to the beach has become a very important part of her day.

“If I have the free time, I like to wake up early and go down to the ocean, go down to the beach and just observe all the wildlife,” explained Lilly. “I see a lot of sea lions, dolphins, sometimes I see whales, and I really wanted to do a painting that got across how important the ocean has become in my life.”

Hazuki Onaga won the mixed media/sculpture/3D category with his expertly painted, marine-themed deck entitled “Ocean and Street,” a thoughtful marriage of sea and street culture and an ode to the urbanity harbored at our beach-side city.


Photo courtesy of Hazuki Onaga.

Guests will also be able to enjoy live band performances, poetry readings, mural painting, educational films and sustainable seafood cooking demonstrations and tastings among other featured activities.

For the entire festival schedule of events, click here. The festival is free to aquarium members and included with general admission for the public. The Urban Ocean Poetry boat cruise is additional and can be purchased à la carte or in combination with aquarium admission.

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