Underwater Festival at science museum will showcase the sea life around us

National Geographic photographer David Doubilet took this still photo for a BLUE feature in 2010 and 2012.

Want to dissect a shark?

How about build a coral reef with recyclable materials?

Or learn about scuba diving from the Scuba Nation pros?

These are among the activities planned for this weekend’s Third Annual Underwater Festival at the Patricia and Phillip Frost Museum of Science.

“There will be underwater photography, hands-on dissections of animals like squids, sharks and starfish,” says Frost Museum science curator Angela Colbert, the event’s lead organizer.

The festival coincides with World Oceans Day to raise awareness of the fragility of the earth’s bodies of water.

Among the highlights of the festival, which will run Saturday and Sunday:

• Professional divers Billy Catoggio and Mitch Herne from the TV show Scuba Nation will discuss diving, answer questions and take photos with the attendees.

• Building your own aquarium. All types of aquariums will be on display.

• Watching several underwater films, including The Majestic Plastic Bag, which follows a plastic bag’s journey from land through the ocean.

• Creating a coral reef over two days, made entirely of recyclable materials.

At 6:30 p.m. Saturday, feature movies will be shown from Fish Navy Films and Beneath the Waves Film Festival, followed by a discussion with Ted Caplow from the film Raising Shrimp. The movies’ cost is covered by the price of admission.

At noon Sunday, there will be a free event at the Knight Plaza, 1103 Biscayne Blvd. Activities will include a scavenger hunt around the plaza, completion of the coral reef project and workshops on water safety with boating exercises demonstrated by Shake-A-Leg Miami.

Also on Sunday, Aileen Soto, education and outreach coordinator of Florida International University’s Marine Education and Research Initiative in the Florida Keys, will conduct a live chat between aquanauts who are 60 feet underwater in the Florida Keys for a 31-day research mission. The project is part of FIU’s Aquarius Reef Base and its Seagrass Ecosystem Research Lab.

“I am looking forward to working with the museum on this initiative to promote awareness of ocean conservation to the public. This is my first time, and I think that it’s really important,” said Soto.

Frost Museum President and CEO Gillian Thomas says there will be many opportunities for people to learn, explore and have fun.

“Whatever your interest is, you will find something exciting. There are many beautiful things about our oceans, and we need to preserve them,” she says.

“The underlying message is the ocean is a beautiful place, it’s our neighbor,” says Colbert. “If we can all see the beauty that exists in it, we can keep it that way for many generations to come.”