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World Oceans Day at Lover’s Key

June 12, 2019
By KATIE EGAN ( , Fort Myers Beach Bulletin, Fort Myers Beach Observer

June 8 was World Oceans Day.

It was also the first time Lovers Key State Park held an event to honor it.

Visitors to the park on Sunday, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., learned how they could help protect and preserve one of the world's most important natural resources and the marine wildlife that depend on it for survival.

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Visitors learned how they could help protect and preserve one of the world’s most important natural resources and the marine wildlife that depend on it for survival.


"The goal," park manager, Katie Moses, said, "Is if each person can leave the beach today with one thing that they're going to do to try and help conserve the oceans, whether they pick up a piece of trash, donate a dollar to help our conservation efforts or they take something away and try that at home."

There were handouts to educate attendees on conservation and give some ideas on what they could do to make a difference.

While the Gulf of Mexico is not an ocean, a healthy body of water is critical to our survival.

Southwest Florida has already taken steps to protect its water, ranging from a plastic straw ban on Fort Myers Beach and Sanibel Island to artificial reefs being installed from Marco Island to Fort Myers.

At noon, about 75 people had attended the event. Moses said her goal was to see 200 to 300 people come out.

Since 2002, people have come together to learn about, protect, and appreciate the world's shared ocean, which makes up 71% of the planet.

The ocean creates most of the oxygen we breathe, regulates the climate, cleans our water, helps feed us, and has been a constant treasure throughout time and history.

The World Oceans Day event at Lovers Key State Park was held at South Beach next to and under the gazebo.

Park rangers gave talks on sharks, sea turtles, manatees and the wrack line, a trail of debris left on the beach by high tide.

Games and activities were set up for kids to learn more about the ocean, Gulf of Mexico and the environment. Attendees could also take advantage of nature tours. Throughout the day, Junior Ranger activity kits were available and visitors created ocean-themed recycling crafts, and played games like Coral Hole (cornhole), Horseshoe Crabs (horseshoes), Coral Reef Atoll Toss (ring toss), Tidal Ball and more.

"A lot of kids are playing the games," Moses said. "You want to do short, quick things with them. I know as a kid I loved doing things like this. Just small things that my parents would do with me. And that got me into doing what I do today."

If someone could only come to one talk, Moses said she'd choose the shark talk.

"Most people hear the word shark and there's fear associated with it instantly," she said. "But a lot of people don't realize that sharks are incredibly important to our ocean ecosystems."

Park ranger, Caitlyn Brunk who gave the talk Sunday, agrees.

"Sharks are highly misunderstood creaturesthey aren't just man hunting, killing creatures," she said. "It's usually mistaken identity. They don't want to harm or kill. They just want to eat because they're opportunistic feeders and they decide we look like food. Then they're like, 'Oh, nope, that's not a seal and that's not a bird. I don't want to eat that.'"

We give a different perspective than what the media likes to do, she said, using the movie "Jaws" as an example.

Brunk says the majority of people who come to the educational talks during season are from out of town.

"We give a greater understanding and a greater perspective of the issues we talk about and I think that fires them up and they realize that these animals aren't a big threat," she said.

Both Moses and Brunk agree that helping to protect and conserve our water starts with one small step.

"This is such a great message about things that you can do," Moses said. "And so we're really trying to focus on what small things people can do, like using a reusable water bottle."

Brunk echoed that sentiment.

"Everybody has to do their part and education is one of the best ways to really spread the word."



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