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22 February 2009

First Ocean Awareness Week begins today

It is 10 minutes away, covers 75 percent of the Earth, and is home to more than one million species. It’s also at risk of being overfished and overused and is in need of preservation.

Rho Rho Rho, the University of Miami’s marine and atmospheric science honor society, hopes to spread awareness about the ocean and marine issues by hosting its first Ocean Awareness Week this week, from Monday through Saturday, to promote preservation of the earth’s oceans.

“The oceans are a necessary and vital part of the earth,” said senior Alycia Rajendran, president of Rho Rho Rho and Ocean Awareness Week co-chair. “It affects humans as much as we affect it.”

Lack of awareness, Rajendran said, can be dangerous.

A series of panels are scheduled to educate students about issues of climate change and beach restoration. Panel participants and guest lecturers from across the country have been invited to speak.

“Climate change and sea level rise will affect our future, and people need to be aware of this so they can be prepared and affect change,” said sophomore Javier Farinas, the week’s outreach chair.

Farinas is a music major on a pre-med track, but joined Rho Rho Rho because he has always been fascinated with the ocean and marine life.

“It’s the majority of the earth, so it’s a big deal,” Farinas said.

Farinas expects that interest will spread around campus through a series of “eye-catching” activities in addition to the educational sessions every day this week at the Rock and the UC patio.

Sebastian the Ibis will kick off the event on Monday with games, food and music. On Wednesday, students can learn about sea life and play with acrylic “touch tanks” featuring live sea critters from the Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science hatchery. SCUBA club will host a free underwater trial session at the UC pool on Thursday. On Friday, students can chat on Skype with the writer of Finding Nemo. There will also be screenings of the films Finding Nemo, Planet Earth and Sharkwater throughout the week. .

Co-chair Rajendran is most excited to have Rob Stewart, the producer and director of Sharkwater speak at the Cosford Cinema after a screening of his award-winning documentary exposing the exploitation and corruption surrounding shark populations in South America.

“He is a leading shark conservationist and very famous in the marine science world,” Rajendran said.  Stewart visited the school two years ago when his film had not yet gained popularity and was received by a packed audience in the I-Lounge. Students will have the opportunity to meet him on Monday night.

The event will conclude with a day of service and benefit concert featuring local UM bands. All money raised will benefit F.I.N.SEA, or Future Interests in Nature and the Sea, an organization that educates disadvantaged children about marine preservation.

For a detailed schedule of events, visit www.miami.edu/studorgs/rhorhorho.

Ocean Awareness and Schedule of Events

Monday:

-Opening Ceremonies – The Rock 12 p.m.

-Sharkwater screening and panel – Cosford Cinema 7 p.m.

Tuesday:

-Beach Restoration Panel – LC 110 6 p.m.

Wednesday:

-An Introduction to Sea Life – UC Patio 11 a.m.

-Climate Change 411 – LC 140 6 p.m.

Thursday:

-Underwater SCUBA Experience – UC Pool 11 a.m.

-Conservation and Preservation 101 – UC Patio 11 a.m.

Friday:

-Meet the Writer – LC 110 6 p.m.

-Dive-In Movie (Finding Nemo) – UC Pool 8 p.m.

Saturday

-Sea Service – meet at the UC Rock, bus to Mattheson Hammock, 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.

-Benefit Concert – UC Rock 7 p.m.