Coast Day gets even more environmentally friendly

Looking for a fun, free and educational way to spend your Sunday? Well, look no further! The University of Delaware’s 33rd Annual Coast Day will be held Sunday, Oct. 4, from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., rain or shine.

Hosted by the University of Delaware’s College of Earth, Ocean and Environment and the Delaware Sea Grant College Program at the Hugh R. Sharp Campus in Lewes, Coast Day promises to be an event the whole family will enjoy. An estimated 14,000 people have attended the event in past years, and Production Coordinator Elizabeth Boyle believes this year will be just as big.

This year’s Coast Day theme is “Climate Change and Our Coast.” Students throughout Delaware were able to submit videos and essays about their views on the theme. The winners and awards will be announced at a special ceremony during Coast Day, with UD President Patrick Harker. Faculty will also be at the event, to help educate, answer questions and give demonstrations.

“There is going to be a lecture about harnessing wind energy for usage at the University of Delaware. Another faculty member is working on a very unique electric vehicle that will be on display,” said Boyle. “We are also going to have a special room that is all about climate change. People can go through that room and sort of see how the ocean is changing as a result of the earth warming, and kind of figure out and think about what they can do in their own life to help.”

But don’t expect all of Coast Day to be lectures. For kids, there will be a treasure hunt that will have them answering questions about the environment, plus a magic show that will teach them about chemistry. They will also be able to enjoy touch tanks filled with various marine creatures, including horseshoe crabs and sharks.

“Our program is pretty interactive. People want to make sure to pick up a program first thing. If you have kids with you, there’s a pink little crayon symbolizing what activities are geared towards them,” said Boyle.

Attendees will be able to take tours of UD’s various ships, including the research vessel Hugh R. Sharp. A rescue demonstration involving the Coast Guard and a fire boat will also take place.

UD professors will also have some of their own research out on display for the public.

“One of our professors has the autonomous underwater vehicle. It basically looks like a torpedo, and it glides under water, and it collects information about the water, such as salinity. There will be a demonstration of that… it’s sort of like scientific eyes underwater,” said Boyle.

If underwater robots aren’t your cup of tea, perhaps the university’s new airship will be of interest.

“We have a new blimp. They use it to fly over the coast and monitor the changes in the coast, for example how the sand moves,” stated Boyle. “It’s a really novel way to do research right now. There will be a big display about it and part of it will be there.”

Food and extra green twists get focus

But Coast Day isn’t just about the science. It’s also about lots of good food – especially seafood.

“I think a lot of people are attracted to the seafood competition. In the Chowder Challenge, you get to taste a little bit and vote for your favorite. In the Crab Cake Cook-Off, you can see all the chefs making their crabcakes and interacting with them.” Continued Boyle, “Everybody likes free food and seafood, and trying different twists on crabcakes.”

In addition to the seafood cooking competitions, Coast Day features seafood cooking demonstrations and plenty of vendors of a variety of foods, from funnel cakes and pizza to offerings from the chefs in the chowder competition.

There is one big difference in Coast Day this year. The event is taking an active role in going green. Reusable bags will be for sale, and plates, cups, napkins and utensils will be composted and the resulting material used for university landscaping. Additional bike racks will even be provided on the campus, to entice more visitors to ride instead of drive.

“We encourage people use alternative transportation, so we wanted to make that available to people,” said Boyle. “We have also printed a lot of the Coast Day materials – like the program and other promotional materials… like the posters we advertise with are printed on paper that is environmentally friendly. The forest the paper comes from is managed in an environmentally friendly manner.”

Those efforts, as with the rest of Sunday’s event at UD’s Lewes campus, means the public can learn, eat and gain a new understanding of the current challenges the area’s coast and world face.

“The opportunity to interact with all the scientists that will be there, I think, is a pretty unique opportunity – for anybody, whether it’s a parent or a kid who thinks they want to get into science or research,” said Boyle.