A Whale Of A Day

Jean Souza and Melissa McFerrin-Warrack check out the layout of a whale’s lungs in the anatomically correct inflatable mammal

The public is invited to celebrate World Oceans Day June 8 with a variety of fun, inspiring and educational events all across Kaua‘i.

Saturday, June 8, marks World Oceans Day, where communities around the world celebrate and honor the ocean. To mark the occasion, the public is invited to participate in an ocean-related event or activity.

“For many of us who live on Kaua‘i, the ocean is a big part of who we are and what we do,” says Jean Souza, regional program specialist at the Office of National Marine Sanctuaries, Pacific Islands Region. “Most people here have a really close relationship to the ocean. The mauka-makai connection is very strong.”

The goal of World Oceans Day is to change perspectives about conservation, encourage people to learn about diverse ocean creatures and habitats, take action to change daily habits and celebrate our connection to the ocean.

According to Souza, there are many things that are changing in the ocean environment, but there are also many ways people can get involved.

“We are starting to become more aware of microplastics on ocean critters and even in the sand, affecting our sea birds,” she says. “Managing our own man-made debris is (something) we need to be very vigilant about. Microplastics have been found in the deepest parts of the ocean.”

Over the past two years, Kukui Grove Shopping Center and other partners have worked with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and National Humpback Whale Marine Sanctuary to create an annual OceanFest event, which marks the start of the state’s humpback whale season.

Based on the success of OceanFest, Kukui Grove Shopping Center will also join in the World Oceans Day celebration with a weekend program full of events for all ages.

“There are so many wonderful volunteer cleanups, activities and celebrations going on around Kaua‘i, reflecting the deep connection and appreciation people around our community have for the ocean,” says Melissa McFerrin-Warrack, Kukui Grove Shopping Center marketing manager.

To that end, on June 7, Kukui Grove Shopping Center, Kaua‘i Society of Artists and Surfrider Foundation will host an opening reception for Washed Up (see our May 8 cover story on the exhibit online at midweekkauai. com), which features art pieces made from marine debris.

That’s My Plastic, created by Holly Kaiakapu, will be on display as part of the Washed Up exhibit at Kaua‘i Society of Artists at Kukui Grove Shopping Center. Check it out through June 26.

Washed Up opens to the public on Saturday, June 8, and runs through June 26.

Kukui Grove Shopping Center also features a series of fun and educational World Oceans Day activities for keiki, all starting at 10:30 a.m. June 8.

For example, Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary presents a life-sized, inflatable, walk-in humpback whale exhibit from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Keiki and adults will have the opportunity to learn about these beautiful creatures and their habitat. Learning stations and keiki craft activities will be offered — and all are free and open to the public.

“The realistic-looking inflatable humpback whale presents a unique and entertaining way to understand the inner workings of the whale, migration, conservation and research,” says Souza. “The hope is to inspire a wonderment that lasts a lifetime.”

That same day, fronting the ocean-themed Keiki Korner children’s play area, Tana Ball, a volunteer educator for Kīlauea Point National Wildlife Refuge, will provide keiki with interactive activities to learn about the mōlī (albatross). Guests can expect a display of art projects by Kapa‘a Elementary School’s third-grade classes that features the preservation of the Moli and its habitat. All student artwork can be viewed for up to two weeks following World Oceans Day.

“The ‘Mōlī Life Cycle’ (program) in the elementary schools is all about empowering students to understand (that) what is happening to the Laysan albatross and other sea creatures will affect their own future,” says Ball. “We encourage the students, after learning about the plastics in the oceans and rising seas, to use their voice to create messages to help save our mōlī.”

Next to the Keiki Korner, Purple Striped Honu Theatre will put on an original short piece — titled Where’s Mom? — about a monk seal searching for its parent. Performances will be at 10:30, 11 and 11:30 a.m.

Showtime characters and mall tenants will also be participating in sea-inspired fun, crafts and tattoos for keiki.

“Our goal is to make it fun and accessible for all ages, so families and visitors on the go can take a moment to be a part of it,” says McFerrin-Warrack.

In the evening, there will be a screening of Aquaman at 6:30 p.m. at center stage.

“World Oceans Day is becoming increasingly a really great day to explore all aspects of the ocean,” says Souza. “From outdoor immersive activities to outreach activities, there is something now on Kaua‘i for everyone.”

For more information on Kaua‘i World Oceans Day events, visit kauai.surfrider.org.