Aquarium workers sweep the beach with education tools

Outside: Sports, Activities, Events

August 12, 2004|By Annie Linskey | Annie Linskey,SUN STAFF

Life at the beach in the summer is all about towels, suntan lotion , screaming children, melting ice cream and spotting cuties on the shore, right?

Yes M-y but MarylandM-Fs coast is also teeming with non-human critters. For several days next week a bevy of eager volunteers from BaltimoreM-Fs Aquarium will fan out on the stateM-Fs beaches to talk to vacationers about how to keep these animals and their habitat safe.

M-tWeM-Fre bringing the aquarium to the people on the beach at Ocean City,M-v said Conservation Director Glenn Page. M-tEven if you are completely disconnected from conservation issues, everyone has some kind of connection to the environment. WeM-Fll talk about what everyone can do to protect the habitat M-y throwing trash in the right place, thinking about kinds of seafood we can choose to eat, driving less, fertilizing our lands. WeM-Fll have a lengthy list.M-v

This is all a part of the National AquariumM-Fs M-tOcean Awareness DaysM-v M-y five days of conservation activities the aquarium sponsors in different parts of the state. The events vary from day to day and are geared toward teaching the public about preserving the ocean environment.

This is the fifth year, and Page estimates that over the course of five days they reach roughly 10,000 people.

M-tWeM-Fre trying to get the message out there that little things make a big difference,M-v said Wade Forbes, a 25-year-old volunteer with the aquariumM-Fs marine animal rescue program. Cutting up the six-pack holder can help.M-v

Monday and Tuesday, volunteers will talk to people on the beach.

M-tIt is not necessarily preachy, but the beach sweeps end up being a lot about how people can get involved,M-v said Forbes. M-tUsually we make sure people are approaching us, so weM-Fre not accosting them on their vacation.M-v

The volunteers will wear specially made T-shirts, carry aquarium identification cards and attract attention by hauling large ocean artifacts around with them.

M-tIf IM-Fm walking on the beach with the jaw of a sperm whale, people say, M-fHey, what is that?M-F M-v said Forbes. He added that the 5-foot, 15-pound unicorn whale tusk he brought last year was of particular interest. Other volunteers will have dolphin skulls, whale vertebra, pieces of baleen from large whales and shark jaws.

Volunteers also use children to demonstrate dolphin rescue drills on the beach M-y they pick a child, cover his face with a dolphin mask, strap him onto a stretcher and spray him with cool water M-y just as they would do if they encountered an injured animal.

And theyM-Fll show people how to spot dolphins (unlike harbor seals, they travel in pods and have short snouts) in preparation for the final event M-y a statewide dolphin count.

Ocean Awareness Days

Beach Sweep: National Aquarium volunteers will walk the beaches and talk about conservation issues. Sweeps are planned for Ocean City, Lewes, Rehoboth, Dewey and Bethany beaches. 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Monday, 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Tuesday.

Ocean Health Fairs: A day of speakers and activities to teach adults and children about conservation. The event takes place in the Roland E. Powell Convention Center, 4001 Coastal Highway, Ocean City, 10 a.m.-3 p.m. on Wednesday. The event is at Cape Henlopen State Park, 42 Cape Henlopen Drive, in Lewes, Del., 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Aug. 19.

Annual Dolphin Count: Register Wednesday at the Ocean Health Fair. Count dolphins 9 a.m.-noon Aug. 20. Locations for the counts will be given at the Ocean Health Fairs. For more information about Ocean Awareness Days, call 410-576-3800.

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