Ocean Awareness Days set for Bethany Beach

Ocean Awareness Days are coming to Bethany Beach once again this year. The National Aquarium in Baltimore will be setting up shop on the boardwalk Monday, Tuesday and Thursday, July 25, 26 and 28.

From 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on those days, the aquarium will have a variety of displays available for beachgoers to peruse. Many of the exhibits will be of marine artifacts, which may include turtle shells and shark artifacts. There may also be some exhibitors not affiliated with the National Aquarium with displays of their own.

The program is in its sixth year overall, but this is only the second year that it has expanded to Delaware beaches. All the events of Ocean Awareness Days are free and open to the public.

“We want to share messages about ocean health,” organizer Hilary Bates said.

While sun-seekers are lying on the beach they shouldn’t be surprised if someone is walking down the beach with artifacts and attracting a crowd. There will be what the aquarium calls “beach sleepers” walking around the beach and picking up items to explain some things to beachgoers. Some of the artifacts they will have on hand will include sea turtle shells and the jaw of a sperm whale

Mock dolphin rescues will also be performed on the beaches. The rescues will emulate mammal rescue procedures, only kids who volunteer will serve in place of the real dolphins.

“We decided to come back because every year it gets bigger,” organizer Jen Ditmer said of the event’s return to Bethany Beach. “People get excited about it.”

In conjunction with the three days of events organized by the aquarium, Ocean Health will be at the boardwalk stage on Wednesday, July 27. There will be an opportunity for interested beachgoers to do arts and crafts and learn about volunteer opportunities related to the ocean.

One of the new things this year is that, in partnership with seasoning brand Old Bay, the aquarium representatives will be talking to consumers about making smart seafood choices. The program is called Ocean Wise and will enable consumers to learn what kind of fishing (and eating) practices it will take to have the same variety of seafood available for years to come.

The National Aquarium will also expand its visit to the Delaware shore beyond the boardwalk in Bethany Beach.

Tuesday night, representatives will be at Delaware Seashore State Park at the Indian River Inlet from 7 to 9 p.m.

Wednesday, Ocean Awareness Days will be located at Cape Henlopen State Park. That day, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., representatives will be at the picnic pavilion and fishing pier in the park. All of the exhibits will be shown together at the park, along with those from outside exhibitors, such as NOAA and Coast Guard Auxiliary.

The week of ocean-related events will culminate in Ocean City, Md., with the Maryland dolphin count. The first dolphin count of the year, it serves to see how the area’s dolphin population is faring compared to previous years. Those wishing to participate in the count may sign up at the Ocean Health stands on Wednesday. Last year’s count was 110 dolphins.