Plumb the depths of the sea and learn how to protect it at free Ocean Fest in Tacoma

Tacoma Ocean Fest — the one-day free event that erases the line between art and science — returns this Sunday to the Foss Waterway Seaport.

Last year, more than 1,300 people attended the inaugural event.

The festival is built around the theme of protecting the ocean’s sea life. By learning more about the ocean’s beauty and creatures, festival goers will hopefully be inspired to help keep it healthy, said festival founder Rosemary Ponnekanti.

“The goal is to make people think differently about the ocean and to care enough about it to change what they do,” Ponnekanti said. “That’s what Ocean Fest is about — inspiring our imagination through the arts, informing us through science and showing us how to take action.”

Despite ongoing news of micro-plastic pollution, dying reefs and other ocean concerns, the festival isn’t a downer. There will be plenty of fun, Ponnekanti said.

Artists, musicians, dancers, youth poets, giant puppets and an aerialist are some of the entertainment. And there will be food trucks.

Down on the waterway, paddleboards, kayaks, and a dragon boat will be available for trial runs.

Several artists will be creating murals in the Seaport building that will remain on display through August.

Performing artists include the return of “Whale Song” by Tacoma City Ballet, West African dance by T.U.P.A.C. and others.

A scuba diving virtual reality experience also returns.

Speakers will include artist Lauren Boilini, ocean plastics activist Ken Campbell and marine biologist Orian Grant.

Along the esplanade, over 25 information booths will be staffed by local and regional nonprofits, government agencies, scientists and others who work to protect inland and ocean waters.

On Saturday, a beach clean-up at the Purdy sand spit will feature an orca mural created by participants.

Beach Cleanup

When: 1-3 p.m. Saturday (June 8).

Where: Purdy Sand Spit, state Route 302, Gig Harbor.

Bring: gloves and refuse container.

Tacoma Ocean Fest

When: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday (June 9).

Where: Foss Waterway Seaport Museum, 705 Dock St., Tacoma.

Cost: Free.

Information: tacomaoceanfest.org/

Transportation and parking: A free shuttle will run to the festival from the Tacoma Dome 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Along Dock St, look for the white bus with the blue Ocean Fest poster. At the Dome bus stop, look for the Ocean Fest flag near the coffee stand across the road.

Craig Sailor has worked for The News Tribune for 20 years as a reporter, editor and photographer. He previously worked at The Olympian and at other newspapers in Nevada and California.