Hundreds celebrated World Oceans Day on June 2 at Mote Aquarium in Sarasota, where ocean conservationists shared their knowledge through fun activities and guests explored the special exhibit “Sea Debris: Awareness through Art” before it concludes on June 15.

Mote’s World Oceans Day Family Festival featured face painting by Akiko Graphics, treats from Kona Ice Mini and a photo-op with a diver in Mote’s bonnethead shark exhibit. Mote Mascot Gilly the Shark greeted guest with his toothy smile, and event booths educated guests on how to sustain, understand and protect natural environments.

Guests enjoyed live music by The Garbage Men, a nationally recognized band from Sarasota that teaches sustainability through their instruments made of recycled materials.

Mote’s event staff emphasized that a clean, trash-free ocean is critical. Guests viewed the limited-time exhibit “Sea Debris: Awareness through Art,” which features the ocean trash sculptures of “Washed Ashore” and offers practical tips to decrease marine debris.

“Sea Debris” is open through June 15. Learn more at and plan your visit at

World Oceans Day is celebrated globally on June 8 to appreciate, honor and promote conservation of the world’s greatest natural resource. It was established in 1992 at the Earth Summit and declared a holiday by the United Nations in 2009 to highlight that oceans matter to the daily lives of people everywhere.

Participating organizations:
The Garbage Men; Save Our Seabirds; Akiko Face Painting; Sharks4Kids; Sarasota County Water Quality Science and Outreach Team; Asolo Repertory Theatre; Fin Pin Shop; Sarasota Ready for 100; Mote’s Environmental Health Program; Longboat Key Turtle Watch; NASA/JPL Solar System Ambassador; SCUBAnauts International; Rookery Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve; Isha Yoga Foundation; Kona Ice Mini Sarasota; Tampa Bay Watch; Protect Our Reefs Specialty License Plate; Help to Oceans; and Sarasota Bay Estuary Program.

Wilde Insurance Services; Aroma Coffee Services, Inc.; POP Yachts; Samsung; and The Children’s Garden.

A mother and daughter lean over the side of a touch tank to look at a sea urchin. An elderly mote volunteer stands next to them, also leaning over the tank as he explains sea urchin behavior.A boy in a wheelchair and his father stop to visit with teenage members of SCUBAnaut International at their booth, which displays a poster on shark anatomy, virtual reality viewing goggles, equipment and a large SCUBAnauts dive flag.The award wining sculpture is a shark rising out of the waves make entirely of trash. That it is made of trash is not immediately obvious. It has a slightly blocky appearance, as if it is made of legos. On closer inspection much of the body of the shark is revealed to be made from shoe soles and inserts while the waves are primarily plastic fragments and loofahs.