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Damages to coral reefs, ocean life and rising ocean temperatures are among topics that will be discussed at this year’s fourth annual World Ocean Day Celebration on Saturday in Miami Beach and Virginia Key.

Miami is one of the most vulnerable cities in the country facing floods as a result of rising sea levels and a low-lying regional coast, causing severe weather conditions, according to livescience.com, a research publication focused on environmental and health issues. 

In addition, sea levels are projected to rise between 6 and 10 inches above sea level by 2030 and then up to 34 inches by 2060, according to Miami.gov. 

Events in Miami Beach will kick off at 8 a.m., featuring family-oriented activities on the beach, including swimming, pilates, beach cleanup, and art at 35th St. Beach at Collins Ave.

A reception at $30 per person will then be held at 5 p.m. later that day in Virginia Key, featuring cocktails, an additional panel discussion and film screening at the University of Miami Rosenstiel School SALT Waterfront and Auditorium.

The evening itinerary will include the presentation of a low-tide dance performance, stories and discussion from female ocean conservationists, and award-winning films in partnership with the San Francisco-based International Ocean Film Festival.

Organizers want the event as accessible as possible to community-goers with as many free activities, said spokesperson Daniella Nunes.

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“The decision to ticket the nighttime event was chosen as a price point that could still be affordable and also symbolically honor the 30×30 global ocean campaign developed in coordination with the UN,” Nunes said.

According to The Ocean Project, the campaign’s mission is to protect 30% of the environment, including land, water and ocean around the globe by 2030. 

Hosted by Miami-based leading ocean organizations ARTSail and Blue Scholars Initiative, they’re committed to raising ocean awareness through art and youth programs, media firm Rubi Group said in a release.

ARTSail connects artists, activists and scientists to explore issues in climate change and BlueScholars Initiative works to educate and empower students in marine science. 

This year’s event includes a series of discussion-led panels, encouraging community members to take action and protect the ocean’s habitat. The event will merge art by Maria Useche and Deborah Mitchell on the interaction between the ocean and human creation, as well as advocacy and action to lead its cause. 

“By bringing together artists, scientists, sponsors, activists, students, and families, during a global celebration, we’re able to amplify the recognition of ocean issues across the city, making a bigger impact and raising more awareness,” said founder of ARTSail Ombretta Agro’ Andruff in a news release. 

A panel titled “Sheroes of the Ocean” will be featured and led by environmental experts, Dr. Lisa Beal, professor of Oceanography at the University of Miami, Cyan Simmons, Port Community Liaison at Ocean Conservancy in southern Florida and Dr. Karlisa Callwood, Marine Scientist and educator. The collective discussion will address environmental threats to the state of southern Florida and introduce methods to combat issues. 

Nearly 800 participants are expected, Nunes said, a growing number since the inception of the celebration in 2021, which initially hosted 500 participants to raise ocean awareness. 

With a hyper-focus on community and youth, organizers hope to continue attracting students, families and even tourists to get involved and increase participation.

“Through our youth-focused outreach, we have cultivated a new generation of ocean activists, showing that ocean conservation is for everyone!” said Adam Steckley, Executive Director of Blue Scholars Initiative.

TATIANA PINHEIRO is a reporter for Miami Fourth Estate, working in an internship program under the auspices of the Craig Newmark School of Journalism at the City University of New York, where she is a graduate student.

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TATIANA PINHEIRO is a reporter for Miami Fourth Estate, working in an internship program under the auspices of the Craig Newmark School of Journalism at the City University of New York, where she is a...