Ocean Awareness Day was this past weekend and it drew out countless families who wanted to educate their children. The main event, hosted at Baby Beach, was part of the 46th Annual Festival of Whales in Dana Point, CA. This year, the event featured multiple interactive events in an effort to help children and parents alike learn by doing.
Government agencies and nonprofit organizations were invited to this year’s event to set up interactive booths to educate the public, but the activities were mostly geared towards younger children. Eric Payne, a father of two, said that it’s especially important to educate the next generation.
“We try to educate them properly since this is where they’re going to grow up,” he said.
Ocean Awareness Day is now in its 12th year and drawing in more people than ever. Combined with the Festival of Whales, there are record numbers of people attending. Approximately 95% of Americans wear t-shirts, and a good number of people attending the Festival of Whales certainly left with a new shirt to their name.
But Ocean Awareness Day isn’t the only interactive way for people to get involved in the ocean. It’s predicted that the amount of plastic waste being thrown to sea will more than double in the next 10 years, a statistic that only gets scarier with visuals.
In an effort to make the ocean and its plights more visible to people, non-profit group The Ocean Agency has created what amounts to Google Street View for the ocean. Richard Vevers, founder and CEO of the organization, believes that proper communication combined with enhanced underwater photography could help raise awareness about the state of the ocean.
Vevers said that the main objective of this project is “to engage people with issues that very few are aware of.” He added that the process for his project isn’t so different than what Google does to capture Street View images. Rather than attaching a camera to a car, it’s attached to a military-grade underwater scooter.
The scooter is self-propelling, thus taking some of the pressure off of the diver maneuvering it. The pair cover approximately two kilometers of photographs with every dive.
Vevers explained that filming the entirety of the ocean would be a gargantuan task, but that the footage his organization has taken paints a detailed picture of many different environments under the water. Above all else, Vevers wants people to have a visual connection to the state of the ocean.
“What I wanted to do with the camera we invented is to allow people to have the experience of jumping into the water, and be able to explore an environment like a coral reef, which to me is the most magical place on the planet,” he said.