Ocean aficionados and eco-travelers can celebrate the Florida Keys’ marine environment, including the continental United States’ only coral barrier reef, during Mote Marine Laboratory’s 2023 Ocean Fest: A Community Celebration.

The event takes place Sunday, Dec. 3 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Key West’s Truman Waterfront Park. The family-friendly festival is designed to entertain and educate while raising awareness about the Keys’ marine ecosystems and the need to preserve them.

The free-admission festival is presented by the Florida-based Mote Marine Laboratory.

Attendees can explore conservation and environmental exhibits from Keys and Florida groups, interact with live animals and touch tanks, view and purchase the creations of local marine artists and craftspeople, rock to the sounds of live music and enjoy hands-on activities for all ages.

Scientists from Mote and other conservation and environmental organizations will be on hand to provide insights into their work and explain how individuals can play a role in ocean preservation.

Proceeds and donations from Ocean Fest benefit Mote’s ongoing coral reef research and restoration programs.

Festival attendees are also encouraged to visit the Florida Keys Eco-Discovery Center adjacent to Truman Waterfront Park. A visitor facility for the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary, the newly renovated center features interactive exhibits about regional ecosystems including Mote’s re-creation of an in-water coral nursery.  

Founded in 1955, Mote is an independent nonprofit marine research institution based in Sarasota. Among its Florida Keys facilities are the Elizabeth Moore International Center for Coral Reef Research and Restoration on Summerland Key and coral nurseries in Islamorada and Key Largo.More information is at mote.org/oceanfest.