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Celebrate the sea at Coast Day, Oct. 12

 

By Maureen Cawley

It’s easy to take for granted the ocean and coastline that surround us—sand to dip our toes in and bountiful seas to sustain us.
But in fact, the landscape of our lives in Cape May County is really something to celebrate, and that’s what folks will be doing at Coast Day in Cape May at the Lobster House Restaurant and dock on Oct. 12. And just like our coastal landscape, the festival is free for everyone to enjoy.
This annual “Celebration of the Sea” is sponsored by the New Jersey Marine Sciences Consortium, a non-profit group of colleges, universities and others, who are dedicated to increasing knowledge and stewardship of New Jersey’s coastal and marine environment.
The eco-festival highlights opportunities for seaside recreation and culture and celebrates the physical beauty of the coast, as well as the food, jobs and transportation it provides.
“We try to help people make personal connections to the coast, to how it effects how we live, what we eat and how we play,” said Claire Antonucci, vice president of the Education for the Consortium.
And the focus of coast festival is on fun. Various hands-on activities will give visitors of all ages a chance to celebrate the playful side of New Jersey’s coastal environment.
The Nature Center of Cape May will be helping folks to pull seine nets from the water for a glimpse of the slippery and clawed creatures who share the ocean with us.
Youth fishing clinics offer kids a chance to practice their casting techniques and learn about safe boating, and the Mid-Atlantic Center for the Arts (MAC) will offer free tours of Cape May Wharf, one of the largest commercial fishing ports on the East Coast.
Plus, “please-touch” exhibits and marine research demonstrations round out the educational offerings.
For more fun, visitors can root for their favorite crustacean in the Fiddler Crab Races and dance to the music of Coast Day’s official band, The Herd of Turtles.
“It’s very interactive,” Antonucci said.
Organizers want to focus on free and educational family fun, so there are few opportunities to spend money here. There are no food or retail vendors at the festival, but when folks get hungry for a taste of the ocean, they can head over to the Lobster House for lunch on the dock.
Plus, some may want to take home a souvenir tee shirt or photo from the Stew Tweed Scholarship Fund booth (see side bar), a scholarship named for a longtime county resident and marine agent that helps cultivate future leaders in aquaculture and fisheries.
There is also a Coast Day photo contest where coast lovers can share the images they’ve captured of the treasures along New Jersey’s coast. The deadline has been extended, and details are available at njmsc.org/CoastDay.html. Cash prizes will be awarded.
Coast Day activities will take place all day on Sunday, Oct. 12 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. with special tours and events taking place as follows:
MAC’s Fisherman’s Wharf Tour–-noon, 1:30 p.m. and 3 p.m.;
New Jersey Audubon’s Explore the Shore Eco-tour–noon 1 p.m. and 2 p.m.;
Youth Fish Casting Clinic by Marine Fisheries Agent, Michael J. Danko – 11:45 a.m., 1:15 p.m. and 2:30 p.m.;
Fiddler Crab Races with prizes and giveaways – 12:15 p.m., 2 p.m. and 3:15 p.m.

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