By: Michelle Booth | Category: Recreation/Leisure | Issue: June 2011
Michelle Zarantonello, education coordinator at the Oklahoma Aquarium, pictured with a bearded dragon and a rose-hair tarantula. The Oklahoma Aquarium’s theme for the 2011 World Oceans Day is Dr. Seuss.
There will plenty of opportunities for family fun at the Oklahoma Aquarium this summer. On June 8, the Aquarium will join hundreds of other aquariums and zoos nationwide in recognizing World Oceans Day. “Even though Oklahomans live in a landlocked state, we still have an impact on our oceans,” said Michelle Zarantonello, education coordinator at the Oklahoma Aquarium. “World Oceans Day is a great opportunity to educate people on what they can do to help.”
Behaviors such as using too much fertilizer and not properly disposing of grass clippings or dog waste all contribute to polluting our local water supply. From there, the toxins make their way to rivers and ultimately, the ocean. “Throughout the day, we will identify simple lifestyle changes people can make to help the aquatic environment,” Zarantonello said.
There are more problems with our oceans beyond pollution, Zarantonello explains. “Overharvesting is an enormous problem,” she said. “More than 90 percent of the species we eat are endangered. We are not leaving enough food in the ocean for fish to reproduce.”
World Oceans Day is observed to help raise awareness and protect our critically important oceans and their inhabitants. Activities including science experiments, exhibitions, and face painting will take place from 10 a.m. to noon. Guests can also interact with live animals such as a praying mantis, an albino Burmese python and a bearded dragon. Adventure-lovers will be given decoders to use for seeing clues on a scavenger hunt.
A “trashformation” art contest will be held from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. Entrants will design works of art using recyclable materials. All the materials will be provided, and prizes will be awarded for first, second and third place. “Participants are required to use some sort of recycled container as a base,” said Zarantonello. “They can then add whatever else they want to it and really get creative.”
The Oklahoma Aquarium is also honoring dads this month. On Father’s Day, June 19, all dads get into the Aquarium for free (one free admission with each paid admission).
Two weeklong summer SeaCamps will be held for children entering grades kindergarten through five. This year’s theme is Adventures Under the Sea. Throughout the week, children will enjoy aquatic-themed games, crafts, hands-on encounters with animals and plenty of outdoor fun. “We’ll be doing lots of science experiments with the kids,” said Zarantonello. “We’ll introduce them to magic sand that doesn’t get wet, and they’ll be able to get inside a huge soap bubble and create dry ice bubbles. It will be educational, but also very fun for them.”
The 2011 SeaCamp dates are June 20 through 24 and July 11 through 15. With fewer SeaCamps this year and space limited to 20 children per session, Zarantonello encourages people to register early. Each camp day is from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Preregistration is required.
For complete information, visit www.okaquarium.org or call (918) 528-1508.