Ocean City’s Green Fair Promotes Environmental Theme

first_imgQuinn Smith, 12, of Royersford, Pa., holds a horseshoe crab while Haley Faith of the Wetlands Institute watches. By Donald WittkowskiBeing ever so careful not to drop it, Quinn Smith held a wet, brown creature that had a helmet-like shell, spooky looking legs and nearly 20 eyes.While the horseshoe crab may have lacked the cuteness of a puppy, the 12-year-old Quinn broke into a big smile and seemed fascinated by this denizen of the seashore whose ancestors date back 450 million years.“I think he’s a very interesting creature,” Quinn said. “In general, he’s pretty cool. He feels kind of like a crab, but his shell is a little bit rougher and is kind of curvy.”Quinn, an Ocean City summer vacationer from Royersford, Pa., was able to learn all about horseshoe crabs Friday during the Ocean City Green Fair, an environmental forum at the Music Pier that touched on an array of topics about the Jersey Shore and its diverse marine life.The fair also included exhibits on gardening, electricity and solar power. Other exhibits warned of the dangers of flooding, mosquitos and litter.The Cape May County Department of Mosquito Control was among the exhibitors at the Green Fair.Marty Mozzo, chairman of the Ocean City Environmental Commission, said the Green Fair underscores the importance of the shore’s fragile eco-system and how to protect it. The Environmental Commission plays a key role in that process by educating the public about the ocean, the beaches, the dunes and the marine life.Summer is a particularly crucial time for the seashore environment. Ocean City and other beach towns are visited by hundreds of thousands of tourists each year. The Environmental Commission serves as a go-between to try to help avoid any conflicts between so many visitors and the shore’s natural resources.“It’s not that people are coming here with any bad intentions. But sometimes they just don’t know,” Mozzo explained.The Environmental Commission has published a series of fliers to educate the public about the dunes, the diamondback terrapins, the dangers of pesticides and fertilizers and the potential harm to turtles from deflated balloons. The commission is in the midst of discussing a whole new series of fliers it will publish on other possible environmental topics, including native plants and the best way to dispose of unwanted plastic, Mozzo said.Ocean City Environmental Commission members Marty Mozzo, left, and John Aitken are part of a local effort to educate the public about the seashore’s diverse eco-system.Joining the Environmental Commission at the Green Fair were other organizations that are involved in protecting the environment. Quinn Smith and his 10-year-old brother, Gus, stopped at a display table by the Wetlands Institute of Stone Harbor to learn about horseshoe crabs and other sea creatures.Haley Faith, outreach coordinator for the Wetlands Institute, pointed out the different types of crabs, snails, whelks and mussels that were swimming or crawling in a tub of water on the table.When she let Quinn hold the horseshoe crab, she told him that it has more in common with arachnids than marine animals.“Do you realize that he’s related to spiders, scorpions and ticks?” Faith asked Quinn. “They can also have as many as 17 eyes.”“That’s a lot of eyes,” Quinn replied, laughing.Quinn, who enters the seventh grade when his Pennsylvania school starts on Monday, was among dozens of children drawn to the Green Fair exhibits. The exhibitors expressed hope that it was a sign they were reaching an entirely new generation of environmentally conscious people.Michael Mogil, a 12-year-old vacationer from Philadelphia, was attracted to the fair while he and his father were riding their bikes on the Boardwalk.Michael, who also had a chance to hold the horseshoe crab, said he might consider biology or oceanography as a career after checking out some of the Green Fair exhibits.“I like science,” he said. “It’s cool.”Echoing one of the themes of the Green Fair, a sign leading to the beach stresses the importance of Ocean City’s dunes.Long before the environment became “cool” in this era, Loretta Sucharski was out planting dune grass in Ocean City in the late 1950s or early 1960s, along with her friends and family members.“We were looking to protect the environment,” Sucharski, now 82 years old, recalled of the dune plantings. “Now you see dune grass all over, but back then, it was rare.”Sucharski, who lives in Philadelphia and has a summer home in Ocean City, resisted calling herself an environmental trailblazer. But she did make it clear that she wants people to become more environmentally conscious.“People can be so careless,” she said.last_img read more