This past June, we were all abuzz for World Oceans Day across the Ripley's Aquariums. A fun environment with a conservation message was the forefront of our activities. We organized beach and shoreline cleanups, free activities for children emphasizing how they are part of the pollution solution, microplastic programs, booths and even attempted a world record.
There are currently three Ripley's Aquariums two of which are positioned away from the ocean, but all three have a water source connection. One of our aquariums is in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina and is situated only one mile from the shoreline, creating a great meeting place to help conserve and protect our oceans. Our second aquarium is located in Gatlinburg, TN next to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. With a wonderful national resource so close and the river at our front door, we emphasize how all waterways lead to the ocean. Our guests learn not only how they can help protect our rivers, but also that by doing so they can protect our ocean and ocean species. Our newest aquarium, in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, is located on Lake Ontario, a part of the Great Lakes system. Since it is not only located on the lake, but is also connected directly to the Saint Lawrence Seaway it is a gateway to the North Atlantic Ocean.
For World Oceans Day, each of our aquariums focused on a different conservation topic. Due to its location, our Myrtle Beach facility focused on cleanup efforts and offered discounted admission for anyone participating in its beach cleanup. They also attempted to break the world record for largest human-made image of the world. Our Gatlinburg location focused on different marine invertebrates and their role in the ocean environment through crafts. While creating mini crabs and jellies, each guest was educated about the plight of these animals and their ocean home. We emphasized the role of plastics being mistaken as food by many animals and the warming of our oceans. Toronto brought the issue of plastic pollution to life and how we can reduce plastic pollution, by engineering a sea turtle made of wire. Guests were encouraged to bring in plastic shopping bags to fill the sea turtle, were given a reusable shopping bag, and were asked to pledge to reduce their plastic bag usage at home. The staff also presented a table containing information about microplastics. Many people have never heard of microplastics and how detrimental they are to the environment and the education team did a great job teaching our guests about this subject.
We are already gearing up for next year’s World Oceans Day events to help change the conversation to conservation.