While Boulder will always be better known for its mountains than its beaches, this week, the city will be recognized as a community invested in ocean health. NOAA’s National Marine Sanctuary and the state of California have recognized Boulder as an honorary coastal community, a distinction fueled by the 2010 creation of the Colorado Ocean Coalition, the first community-centered ocean organization in the United States created to form an inland ocean constituency.
The resolution from the State of California acknowledges Colorado Ocean Coalition’s efforts to organize and educate Colorado’s residents, scientists, activists, divers and businesses about threats to the ocean and solutions to those problems.
“I think it’s significant because it empowers inland communities to take a leadership role in protecting our oceans,” says Vicki Nichols Goldstein, founder of the Colorado Ocean Coalition. “And it’s always been kind of a joke, it’s been kind of a funny like oh yeah right, but this recognition really confirms that people do have an opportunity to make a difference. This is really confirming that people around the United States and around the world really are recognizing this effort and I’m hoping this will inspire other communities to do as we are.”
The city and county of Boulder will present the resolution on Sept. 21, the first Colorado Ocean Coalition day, during the third annual Making Waves Symposium.
“Until now, there has never been a voice in the Mountain States that would speak up for the protection of oceans,” Goldstein said in a press release. “But now that we have been recognized as a force for good by the state of California, with one of the longest coasts in the US, we believe we will be able to push our campaign to the next level.”
The resolution will be presented at 9 a.m. Saturday, Sept. 21 in the University of Colorado Chem Lab 140, where the speaker symposium for Making Waves is taking place.
Making Waves opens Friday, Sept. 20, with a Blue Drinks event at Restaurant 4580. Events throughout the weekend include a Mile High Blue Exposition and a Mermaid Masquerade Ball, an Ocean Film Festival and a symposium of speakers that will include Fabian Cousteau, oceanographic explorer and filmmaker and grandson of ocean explorer Jacques-Yves Cousteau. Fabian Cousteau’s next mission will involve living underwater at a depth of 63 feet for 31 days.
The Mile High Blue Exposition, held from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 21 and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Sunday, Sept. 22, will showcase more than 50 scuba dive shops, dive resorts, ocean conservation organizations and other ways to get educated and involved in preserving oceans.
Saturday’s Speakers Symposium is free for the public and will cover eco-tourism, adventure travel, sustainable seafood and the impacts of energy production on the ocean.
The Mermaid Masquerade Ball, a night of music and dancing alongside a silent auction, will be held at the Hotel Boulderado. Ocean-themed masks are welcome.
The three main threats to the ocean can all come from anywhere in the country, Synte Peacock, an ocean and climate research scientist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research, told Boulder Weekly for a 2012 story. Those threats are the loss of big fish species, which have been depleted about 90 percent since 1950; plastics that wash downstream and make up an estimated 90 percent of the trash in the ocean, which includes the Great Pacific Garbage Patch roughly the size of Texas; and acidification to ocean water, which compromises species from whales to coral reefs, and is caused by increased carbon in the atmosphere.
“It’s really not about appreciating the ocean in Colorado, it’s really about, if you appreciate Colorado, you need to do the same things that you do if you appreciate the ocean,” Dan Basta, director of NOAA’s Office of National Marine Sanctuaries, said at the 2012 Making Waves during his talk, “Bolder form Boulder: The Boulder Effect.” Conversations that came out of Making Waves, Basta went on to say, have changed his strategies for campaigns around the country to convince Americans to care more about the ocean.
An ongoing theme for the Colorado Ocean Coalition, which will be showcased Making Waves as at their ongoing Blue Drinks events, is that everything runs downstream and the choices made by consumers even far inland — with single-use plastic bags and bottles, the seafood consumed and the pesticides and fertilizers used — have consequences far downstream.
That theme will be illustrated during the Ocean Film Festival. Viewers will have a chance to explore the headwaters of the Colorado River, dip into the ongoing damage of the Deepwater Horizon offshore oil spill, tour the Pacific Garbage Patch, watch bodysurfing at its best and get to know various marine species from manta rays to lionfish, an Indo-Pacific Ocean species now overrunning waters in the Atlantic Ocean and Caribbean Sea. The Ocean Film Festival runs from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Sunday, Sept. 22, at the Cristol Chemistry Boulder on the CU Campus. A day pass to the festival is $35.
A full schedule can be found online at www.coloradoocean.org.