World Oceans Day Celebration

Monday June 8, 2020 • 1:00 and 7:00 p.m. PDT

Online Event

World Oceans Day is a global movement to celebrate, protect, and preserve Earth’s life support system. Join us for discussions and films that explore the sights and sounds of the sea, from the lapping shoreline of San Francisco Bay to the call of a deep-diving whale off of the Pacific Coast to kelp forests and spawning herrings.

Program Highlights

1:00 p.m.
Observing and Exploring (Ages 8+)
Watch the livestream here or on YouTube and Facebook.

Life in a Drop of Seawater
Have you ever wondered what’s in a drop of ocean or Bay water? Thousands of tiny creatures, called phytoplankton, drift in the ocean and into San Francisco Bay and convert sunlight into food for marine animals. Join Mary Miller, environment program director at the Exploratorium, in conversation with UC Santa Cruz ocean scientist Anna McGaraghan as she explores miniature marine ecosystems using a powerful robot microscope installed at the Exploratorium’s Pier 17.

Deep Look: The Story of Plankton
Most plankton are tiny drifters, wandering in a vast ocean. But where wind and currents converge they become part of a grander story, an explosion of vitality that affects all life on Earth, including our own.

Return of the Harbor Porpoise to San Francisco Bay
Who's back in the Bay? Harbor porpoises after a 65 year absence! This music video, shot and performed by Exploratorium's own Lisa Strong, follows California Executive Director of the National Wildlife Federation Beth Pratt in costume as she travels around San Francisco celebrating the return of the porpoise.

Ocean Motion 
If you’ve ever been to the beach or watched crashing waves, you know that the ocean is in constant motion. But did you know that special radar instruments track and record ocean and Bay currents? Come join a chat between Exploratorium environment program director Mary Miller and Bodega Marine Lab oceanographer John Largier about ocean motion and how the Pacific Ocean connects to San Francisco Bay.

Ocean Robots to the Rescue
What happens when you cross a sailboat with a drone? You get an ocean-going robot that can safely explore distant and sometimes dangerous oceans and solve mysteries that humans alone haven’t cracked. In this chat, Exploratorium’s Mary Miller will be talking with Sebastien de Halleux, the Chief Operating Officer of Saildrone about some of the missions and mysteries that these nimble machines have undertaken and explored. The company, based in Alameda, makes ocean drones that sail through the Golden Gate to embark on their scientific journeys.

7:00 p.m.
Studies in Sights and Sounds (Ages 16+)
Watch the livestream here or on YouTube and Facebook.

Join us for these artful observations that immerse you in the rich sights, sounds, and ecology of oceans.

Life By the Tide 
With an introduction by filmmaker Josh Cassidy
2009, 7 min.

Using time-lapse photography and other techniques, this film captures a close-up look at the hypnotic and normally invisible movements of the creatures that are exposed at low tide on the Pacific Coast.

Josh Cassidy is a Senior Video Producer for KQED Science, and the Lead Producer and Cinematographer for their series Deep Look. After receiving his BS in Wildlife Biology from Ohio University, he went on to participate in marine mammal research for NOAA, USGS, and the Intersea Foundation.

Sounds in the Sea
With an introduction by Kristina Dutton and Michael Stocker
2020, 5 min.

Follow an underwater audio journey from the estuaries of San Francisco Bay through kelp forests of the Northern California coastline and then down into the Monterey Bay Canyon. Composers Kristina Dutton and Beau Sorenson and Michael Stocker of marine bioacoustics organization Ocean Conservation Research created this as part of their ongoing collaborative project Sounds in the Sea.  

Dig into a 20-minute extended version of Sounds in the Sea. And hear from the artists and scientists working in these waters in this audio guide created by the Exploratorium's Kate O'Donnell.

Kristina Dutton is a composer, musician, and media artist who specializes in interdisciplinary work. Her compositional focus is in film, dance, and multimedia events. 

Beau Sorenson is a freelance audio professional (producer/mixer/engineer) based in California. He writes, records, and remixes music as Beaunoise.

Michael Stocker is an acoustician and naturalist by trade and a musician by avocation, he has written and spoken about marine bioacoustics and the impacts ocean noise pollution has on marine life. He is the founder and Executive Director of Ocean Conservation Research.

A Herring Opera
With an introduction by filmmaker Tessa Ellie Schmidt
2011, 27 min.

Glimpse the complicated but beautiful flurry of activity that happens in Sitka, Alaska, each spring, when herring arrive to spawn. Commercial fishermen descending on spawning sites are posed against local, indigenous fishing practices as the small town comes to life at a critical point in the reproduction cycle of the fish. Told with minimal narration, the imagery and operatic structure guide the story and reveal a model of sustainability of an ocean damaged by overconsumption.

Tessa Ellie Schmidt is a visual artist living and working in Sitka, Alaska. Schmidt primarily tells stories about the harvesting of ocean resources in coastal Alaska through film and underwater photography. Schmidt makes her living working on commercial fishing boats, including a salmon troller, a Dungeness crabber, and a sea cucumber dive boat.


On World Oceans Day, we celebrate how San Francisco Bay nurtures our spirits and reflect on our collective impacts on the environment. How do we experience living near the Bay, and what does examining our relationship to the water teach us about ourselves and how we observe the natural world? How will these relationships and our coastal dynamics change as sea levels rise? What will we lose, and what will we gain, as the shoreline changes? As we cultivate new ways to observe and understand our connection to the ocean, the Exploratorium’s Fisher Bay Observatory is collecting images and narratives about the shoreline from around our region.

To join the effort, post a photograph of a Bay shoreline you’ve visited and describe what you observed, what you know, and how you feel about the place you are documenting (please include a location tag or description). We will be distilling these images and stories for a future project, and for informing our approach to shoreline observation beyond the walls of the Observatory.

World Oceans Day at the Exploratorium is made possible with the generous support of Kaiser Permanente.

Kaiser Permanente