Submitted by Tacoma Ocean Fest

The coronavirus pandemic has stopped many things, but it can’t stop Tacoma Ocean Fest.

Tacoma Ocean Fest
Photo courtesy: Tacoma Ocean Fest

After a huge success in 2019, the free ocean festival of arts, sciences and water fun returns for the third year in online format September 13. Art installed at the Foss Waterway Seaport and presented virtually, music and dance video premieres, underwater film, the Youth Story Contest, OceanX Zoom Talks, artist livestreams, virtual Eco-Booths, #TacomaSplash and a brand-new Ocean Action Game bring the community together to celebrate the ocean, learn about its threats and protect it.

Tacoma Ocean Fest Online runs 10:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m. on September 13. All content will be available at The final schedule will be online soon.

With returning favorites and brand-new experiences for all ages, the festival highlights the beauty and fragility of the ocean and focusing on three main pillars to protect it: Stopping pollution, slowing climate change and saving species.

“This is a really difficult time for our world,” said founding director Rosemary Ponnekanti. “We have big challenges in health, economy, social justice and equity. But these also tie in to the health of our planet. We are all connected. And right now, people also need joy in their lives. That’s what Ocean Fest is about – inspiring our imagination and empathy through the arts, informing us through science, and showing us how to take action. And having fun, even though we can’t gather together.”

On September 12, the festival kicks off in real life by partnering with the Tacoma Shoreline Survey, a city-wide individual beach cleanup with #TacomaSplash photo challenge. (More below.)

On September 13, the website will unveil a real-time line-up of digital experiences. They include:

Virtual art tours/livestreams at the Foss Waterway Seaport:

Tacoma Ocean Fest
Photo courtesy: Tacoma Ocean Fest

Lourdes Jackson (@lourdesenfleur)

Tacoma muralist Lourdes Jackson creates a massive flowing ocean triptych painted on layers of silk and organza. Deeply immersive, it reflects on both underwater ocean life and human life above it. Installation slideshow and video. Artist livestream 2:30 p.m. September 13 on

Tacoma Ocean Fest
Photo courtesy: Tacoma Ocean Fest

Dean Burke (@tacomaandthesea)

Paddler, tourism CEO and photographer Dean Burke creates a wall-grid of his phenomenal underwater images that straddle the human and deep ocean world. Suspended waves, billowing jellyfish, swimmers cocooned in frigid green water, Burke’s photography is born of his deep connection to the water. Installation slideshow. Artist livestream 3:30 p.m. September 13 on

Fergus Hyke (@fergushyke)

Deeply rooted in his own connection to the water, Fergus Hyke is a Tacoman, Hawaiian, outrigger paddler and photographer whose work spans breathtaking sunset panoramas to intimate portraits of nesting peregrine falcons. Installation slideshow. Artist livestream 4:30 p.m. September 13 on

Music and dance video premieres:

Tacoma Ocean Fest
Photo courtesy: Tacoma Ocean Fest

An incredibly diverse line-up of artists with work that speaks on the ocean from a multiplicity of cultural experiences. Includes: dancer Dakota Camacho (Matao/Chamorru), flutist Paul Chiyotken Wagner (Saanich), aerialist Deanna Riley, electric cellist Gretchen Yanover, the Steel Pan Ensemble from Pacific Lutheran University, Tacoma Urban Performing Arts Company, Tacoma City Ballet, clarinetist Cindy Renander, Brass Band Northwest, filmmaker Annie Crawley and more.

All videos will premiere September 13 on the Tacoma Ocean Fest YouTube and website.

OceanX Zoom Talks:

Three local ocean storyteller activists, in a 20-minute interactive Zoom presentation plus Q&A.

  • Sally Brownfield, Squaxin Island elder and Salish Sea protector
  • Emily Pinckney, marine biologist, environmental justice activist
  • Judy Twedt, climate scientist and digital composer

Youth Story Finalists:

Young poets and filmmaker finalists from the 2020 Tacoma Ocean Fest Youth Story Contest (sponsored by Tacoma Sunrise Rotary) read or screen their work (videos available on demand). Awards will be presented in a private Zoom ceremony.

Virtual Eco-Booths: What are Eco-Booths? Over 20 local and regional non-profits, agencies, science departments and individuals who protect our waters! All will offer a short, fun video about what they do and how we can help, plus a DIY home activity.

Ocean Action Game: Each Eco-Booth will tie into one of the nine Ocean Actions that anyone can do in daily life to protect the ocean, from avoiding single-use plastic to protecting salmon habitat or riding a bike. NEW THIS YEAR:  Watch any Eco-Booth video, answer the fun-fact question and earn a giveaway!

Tacoma Shoreline Survey cleanup: The Ocean Fest weekend will begin with a beach cleanup. All-day Saturday, September 12, Tacoma Ocean Fest partners with the Tacoma Shoreline Survey, a city-wide beach cleanup where individuals or households can clean up a section of shoreline and document the trash for science via a phone app. Masks and social distancing are required, as well as pre-registration at

#TacomaSplash: To add some water fun, Tacoma Ocean Fest is holding the #TacomaSplash challenge – wade, jump or dip your toes in the water sometime this weekend, snap a selfie and upload to social media with hashtag #TacomaSplash to be included on festival web channels and in the prize draw!

Tacoma Ocean Fest is supported by a City of Tacoma Arts Projects grant and Sustainability Small Grant, by the Bamford Foundation and Tacoma Public Utilities. The Foss Waterway Seaport is the venue sponsor. Tacoma Sunrise Rotary is the lead sponsor of the Youth Ocean Story Contest, with prizes also donated by Round Table Pizza.


Tacoma Shoreline Survey & #TacomaSplash: All day Sept. 12 at venues around Tacoma.

Tacoma Ocean Fest: 10:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m. September 13 at

Cost: Free

Print Friendly, PDF & Email