Monday, April 23, 2012
Here at the Aquarium, we’re gearing up for our third annual Urban Ocean Festival. Preparations have been underway for months; we’ve been busy planning musical entertainment, sustainable seafood dishes, interactive mural painting, special exhibit signage, new audio-visual presentations, and poetry, art, and fashion contests with winners set to share their work at the festival. Held this year on May 5 and 6, this festival is one example of how the Aquarium invites artists and experts from non-science disciplines to create work that brings a new perspective to ocean issues. Our hope is that attendees will see, hear, taste, or create something at the festival that will help them think about the ocean in a way they never have before.
The festival also kicks off a series of urban ocean boat cruises that give passengers a chance to see parts of the port complex and San Pedro Bay that aren’t usually seen by the general public, as well as the marine life, like sea lions and wetlands birds. These animals make their homes in this area, which experiences high volumes of traffic and heavy use by humans, for both commercial and recreational purposes. For cruise dates and more information, click here.
Luke Richmond is one of the Aquarium’s education associates, meaning he teaches Aquarium guests during sleepovers for kids and adults, does outreach programs, and leads our day camps. He also narrates the Aquarium’s whale watch and urban ocean cruises, something he’s been doing for about two years. I spoke with him to learn more about his background and the urban ocean.
Claire: How did you get your start in the aquarium industry? What is your educational background? Luke: This is always an interesting question for me. At the time I got started in the education department I was in college studying film and theatre. Subsequently I got a degree in screenwriting. So my formal education is very arts-based. However, I’ve always had a deep passion for the sciences, and getting a chance to mix some of my theatrical skills (i.e. the gift of gab) with my interest in science makes working at the Aquarium a lot of fun.
What are some of your favorite parts of the urban ocean cruise? My favorite part might be passing by the commercial fishing docks and sharing info with our guests about the value of commercial fishing, while at the same time emphasizing that the ocean is a limited resource, and that it and all the life within it need stewardship if we hope to continue to enjoy them in the future. In general I think my favorite moments are those that illuminate the point that we can all share in the value of our natural resources, both recreationally and commercially, but doing so gives us an obligation to respect, protect, and nourish those resources for the future.
Why is it important for people to learn about the urban ocean? The ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles are among the largest and busiest in the world. Their commercial impact ripples out across millions of livelihoods both in marine and terrestrial industries. At the same time however, they are seated in the middle of one of the most important, diverse, and delicate natural regions of the world ocean. Our coastline is home to thousands of marine species, and like the ships that travel to and from the port from across the world, many of the species in our local marine habitats, whether they be marine mammals, fish, or even invertebrates, are likewise travelers. The natural roles they play here and elsewhere are critical to the future viability of ocean biology worldwide.
What is your favorite animal at the Aquarium? The octopus. I love the way it is always changing shape, color, and texture. That, paired with its strange but somehow relatable intelligence makes it one of the most fascinating animals in our collection.
Do you have an interesting story about working on the cruises that you could share? I have met a lot of interesting folks and had a number of good conversations on the urban ocean cruise. A lot of the guests who join the cruise are involved in the ports or have family that are, and many times I’ve met folks who’ve had as much to teach me about the ports as I do them, if not more.
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