Gavin Wuttken dives with sharks. Annie Crawley films humpback whales. Ken Campbell cleans plastic out of Puget Sound from a kayak. Rachel Graham empowers youth leaders.
Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium brings each of them to Tacoma during April in an Ocean Voices speaker series highlighting scientists, filmmakers and environmentalists who work to protect the ocean.
The series employs venues in downtown Tacoma, traveling from Alma Mater to The Grand Cinema to the University of Washington Tacoma. It’s part of the Pacific Seas Aquarium Community Celebration, an action-packed month of events April 1-30 at the Zoo and around Tacoma.
“Ocean Voices is a unique opportunity to hear and see the latest in ocean science and conservation,” said Karen Povey, conservation engagement manager at Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium. “These people come face-to-face with devastating ocean problems, but also incredibly beautiful ocean animals. We get to see what they see every day.”
Talks begin at 7 p.m. every Tuesday during April and are free. The series includes:
- Lightning Talks: April 2, 7-9 p.m. What: A fast-paced evening of a dozen local speakers with just five minutes each to show what they do. Includes paddleboarder and tourism CEO Dean Burke on social change; Bethany Llewellyn from the University of Puget Sound on seabirds and plastic; Surfrider Foundation on community action; Rachel Easton from Harbor Wild Watch on marine life; and zoo Marc Duncan, senior staff biologist for the zoo’s aquarium team. Venue: Alma Mater, 1322 Fawcett Ave. (NOTE: Ages 21 and up.)
- Our Ocean and You: April 9, 7-9 p.m. What: Underwater filmmaker, photographer and activist Annie Crawley and paddleboarder Dean Burke pair for an evening of breathtaking ocean imagery and calls to action. Venue: Philip Hall, University of Washington-Tacoma, 1918 Pacific Ave.
- Shark Crisis: April 16, 7-9 p.m. What: A screening of Rob Stewart’s “Sharkwater Extinction” exposing the illegal shark fin industry, followed by a Q&A with Gavin Wuttken, Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium’s Dive Safety
Venue: The Grand Cinema, 606 S. Fawcett Ave.
- Uncovering Ocean Mysteries: April 23, 7-9 p.m. What: An evening with world scientists and Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium staff who study hammerhead sharks, endangered sea turtles and other marine life. Venue: Philip Hall, University of Washington-Tacoma, 1918 Pacific Ave.
- Ocean Heroes: April 30, 7-9 p.m. What: A showcase of local people who are fighting to protect the ocean, Rachel Graham from MarAlliance and Ikkatsu Project founder Ken Campbell, to illegal wildlife trafficking heroes Detective Lauren Wendt and K9 Benny, who is trained to sniff out illegal shark products. Venue: Philip Hall, University of Washington-Tacoma, 1918 Pacific Ave.
The Pacific Seas Aquarium Community Celebration runs April 1-30. All events are free, or free with Zoo admission, and there’s something for all ages including watching aquarists dive in the aquarium’s Northwest Waters and Baja Bay habitats as they care for animals and clean; storytelling; artist talks and hands-on art-making; and a community art project.
The 35,000-square-foot Pacific Seas Aquarium was funded largely through bonds approved by Tacoma voters in 2014. Additional monies for construction were provided by The Zoo Society through corporate and individual donors, and grants. It is the largest capital project in the zoo’s 114-year history.
For more information, go to www.pdza.org/aquarium-celebration.