FORT BRAGG, CA, 6/1/23 — The Noyo Center for Marine Science will celebrate World Ocean Day this year with a weekend full of events on June 10-11. Community members can take a bilingual tour of the Crow’s Nest Interpretive Center on the Noyo Headlands or enjoy a round of ocean-themed trivia at the Slack Tide Cafe. An ocean and climate rallying cry begun in 1992, World Ocean Day marks June 8 as a day to promote public engagement and inform policymakers.
But like much of the local marine science hub’s recent programming in Fort Bragg schools, our local celebration of the ocean will also focus on the scourge of plastics.
“We try to stress that we’re not here to judge or to assume that making changes [around plastic use] is going to be easy, because it’s pretty obvious that not all families can make the choice to buy things in bulk or go to a grocery store instead of the dollar store to shop,” said Noyo Center Education Program Coordinator Sue Coulter. “We just want to inform you.”
She and Bilingual Educator Michael Brito planned curricula for about 500 elementary, middle, and high school classes at Three Rivers Charter School and in the Fort Bragg Unified School District to learn about how plastic is used in our lives, how trash gets to the ocean, and the health impacts of plastic pollution.
It’s vital learning: plastic can take a thousand years to degrade, and researchers estimate that the plastic in the sea will outweigh its fish by 2050. Even once degraded, plastics becomes microplastics. These tiny, toxic particles are found throughout the world today, even in drinking water and soil. What’s more, plastic production using fossil fuels contributes to the climate crisis.
In Coulter and Brito’s workshops, armed with rubber gloves and a big tarp, all grade levels begin with a trash audit. Kids sort different types of plastics, noting the most common items and top contributing brands, as well as the recycling grade — including whether the plastic will sink or float in water. The Noyo Center was inspired to talk specifically about brands and corporate responsibility by the Break Free From Plastic movement, Coulter explained.
“They get totally grossed out,” she laughed. “But it’s one of the most memorable things.”
She is grateful to the teachers and classes they’ve worked with, and looks forward to bringing these demonstrations and conversations to the wider community.
“We just want to be able to showcase [these impacts] and bring some awareness to taking care of our oceans,” she said.
The weekend’s events are as follows:
- Beach Cleanup at Noyo Beach on Saturday, June 10 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
- “Talking Trash,” a pop-up exploring marine debris at the Discovery Center on Saturday, June 10 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
- Ocean Trivia Competition at Slack Tide Cafe for $10 per group on Saturday, June 10 from 3 p.m. to 4 p.m.
- Picnic and Bilingual Tour with Latino Outdoors at the Crow’s Nest Interpretive Center on Sunday, June 11 from 2:30 p.m. to 5 p.m.
Note: Kate Fishman covers the environment & natural resources for The Mendocino Voice in partnership with a Report For America. Her position is funded by the Community Foundation of Mendocino, Report for America, & our readers. You can support Fishman’s work with a tax-deductible donation here or by emailing [email protected]. Contact her at KFishman@mendovoice.com or at (707) 234-7735. The Voice maintains editorial control and independence.