California Festivals

Aquarium of Pacific Urban Ocean Festival pictures

LONG BEACH Urban Ocean Festival

Aquarium of the Pacific
100 Aquarium Way
Long Beach, CA

Urban Ocean Festival Grabs Your Attention

By C. MacDonald

Long Beach, CA--Bravo to the Aquarium of the Pacific for raising awareness of the ocean, its inhabitants and us. It amazingly does this in a variety of creative, clever ways, including the annual Urban Ocean Festival, which combines art, fashion, food, music, recycling and even poetry to help people understand that we are part of the ocean and the ocean is part of us.

ATTRACTION: Aquarium of the Pacific in Long Beach is one of the nation's premier ocean aquariums. Don't stand in line and wait! Get your tickets here!

At a past event, the unique Urban Ocean Poetry Cruise featured aquarium officials explaining sea life and all the exciting things happening in the water near the Ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles, combined with incredible readings by some Urban Poetry Contest winners. It is a sensational and memorable experience for those of us lucky enough to be on-board the Harbor Breeze boat, Caroline.

In 2014 Lisa Jetonne (left photo), an accomplished sculptor and former artist-in-residence at Cabrillo National Monument in San Diego, won First Place (Adult Category) for her poetry, which is inscribed on the slats of four salvaged wooden chair-backs, planted in the sand facing the sea at the monument's Whale Watch Overlook. When it's wet or foggy, the words of wisdom appear to the amazement of visitors.

She read her terrific, succinct, well-selected words, which pack punch with understanding and memory in "Murmurs," inspired by her work at the breathtaking overlook.

The earth murmurs
Whales breathe
Stones whisper
Sounds caught a million years ago

to the brush shimmer
and the packed rolling sand

Figures played here
A carousel of children
turning history

The sea's fingers close
timeless passages

Waves folding
Behind blank fog

The earth murmurs
Whales breathe.

"People would ask me why I'm writing poetry, when I'm an artist," Jetonne said. "As an artist my job is to create images in people's minds without telling them what to imagine and a poet has the exact same job. With poetry, you're painting imagery with words."

The breathtaking imagery she paints with words, helps the reader appreciate the ocean, the land, the past, present and future.

The artist's printmaking can even be seen on labels for the soap she makes which sells in the aquarium's gift store. Her website is (

The whole urban ocean festival concept is terrific because it impacts all your senses from ear to eyes to mouth to smell to feel.

"It's wonderful how the aquarium gets the community involved so we think about what we're doing, especially when it comes to the ocean," said Susan Suhr (right photo above,) whose poetry earned 2nd Place (Adult Category) in the contest.

As the ship navigated through the bay, Suhr read her poem, appropriately named, "Sacred Waters," to a large audience.

Pernicious plastics plodding through
our azure, blue oceans turn
leisurely walks along the shore
into mine fields of despair.

Onerous oil spills from
Blue Water Horizon and Exxon Valdez
torture our coasts
into ecological nightmares.

Radical radioactivity from
Fukushima floating thousands
of miles across the Pacific
to the shores of California.

What are we humans thinking?

Our oceans are sacred bodies
deserving our attention and preservation.
Algae, kelp beds, coral reefs, starfish, mollusks
sharks and whales...

Can you imagine the oceans without them?

The sun glisten over the top of the wave line
bouncing light over the horizon.
The sky settles atop and presses
its blue beauty into unity.

Let our oceans breathe, let our ocean live,
let our oceans exist in harmony
and preserve their sacred sanctity
for our future generations.

The Laguna Niguel poet's words inspire us to bring back respect for the ocean.

Elliot Fried, Professor Emeritus of English, California State University, Long Beach, helped organize the event and was one of three judges.

Urban Ocean: World Port and Sea Life Cruises happen monthly during the summer.

Urban Ocean Festival activities range from live music to sustainable seafood demonstrations, films and more. The Festival sponsor is the Port of Long Beach. Partners include Savor...State Fish Company, Inc., The Great Dane Baking Company, Seafood for the Future....

Senior Marketing Coordinator Peter Martineau, Lecture Coordinator Linda Brown and everyone else involved in this Urban Ocean Festival--from the aquarium and the community--are to be commended for enabling thousands to explore, understand, appreciate, celebrate and join together to make a better Southern California coast.

The Aquarium of the Pacific continually comes up with new ways to involve all of the community and share an appreciation for the need to protect and preserve our environment.

Events are not guaranteed. It is your responsibility to confirm before going.

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