Ocean enthusiasts and eco-travelers can salute the unique marine environment of the Florida Keys island chain, which includes the continental United States’ only living coral barrier reef, Saturday, April 14, during Mote Marine Laboratory’s Ocean Fest: A Community Celebration.
The family-friendly free-admission event is set for 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. at the Florida Keys Eco-Discovery Center, located at 35 E. Quay Road, and Key West’s Truman Waterfront Park. A visitor facility for the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary, the Eco-Discovery Center houses exhibits that showcase the region’s unique ecosystem including a living reef exhibit created by Mote.
Attendees at the lively festival can explore conservation and environmental exhibits from numerous organizations, meet live animals and experience touch tanks, view and purchase the work of local marine artists and craftspeople, bid on silent auction items and rock to the sounds of favorite local entertainers including Howard Livingston and the Mile Marker 24 Band, Gerd Rube and Emily Springsteen.
In addition, attendees can meet scientists and researchers from Mote Marine Laboratory and other organizations and learn how they can help preserve the marine environment.
World-renowned marine life artist Wyland is to be a special guest, giving painting demonstrations and auctioning his work to support the underwater environment.
Two free fishing clinics, hosted by the Boy Scouts of America’s Florida National High Adventure Sea Base, are planned for kids ages 7 to 12. Each of the first 100 registrants is to receive a free fishing rod and aquatic apparel goodie bag. To participate, youngsters must register online at mote.org/mote-oceanfest/fishing-clinic-registration.
Other planned attractions include food and beverages from local restaurants, food trucks, breweries and emporiums.
Proceeds and donations from the festival are to support Mote Marine Laboratory’s coral reef restoration and research programs. Founded in 1955, Mote is an independent nonprofit research organization based in Sarasota, Florida, with field stations in eastern Sarasota County and Summerland Key in the Florida Keys.
Event information: moteoceanfest.org