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Whale Festival celebrates Gulf coast marine life

The Gulf Coast Whale Festival brings environmental education and fun to Pensacola Beach on April 27. Life-sized models of Gulf whales will be on display, courtesy of the Clearwater Marine Aquarium Research Institute. That includes a model of the Rice’s whale—one of the world’s rarest and most endangered animals.


Educational exhibits and activities tell the story of Gulf whales and local marine life, and a puppet parade led by Birds of a Feather showcases the ecology of the Gulf. Sweet sounds will flow from the Casino Beach Pavilion with live music by Pensacola singer-songwriters, and a special performance by New Orleans musician Cory Diane combines the calls of Rice’s whales in the Gulf of Mexico with a musical score.

“We’re excited to launch the Gulf Coast Whale Festival and bring awareness to and celebration of the whales and other natural riches of the Gulf of Mexico,” said Christian Wagley, Florida/Alabama Organizer at the nonprofit Healthy Gulf.

One of the organizations leading educational activities at the Festival is the Navarre Beach Marine Science Station, where students continue their years of work around Gulf marine life.

“My students are really excited to share our work on marine mammals, especially Rice’s whales,” says Charlene Mauro, director of the Center. “We’ll have an inflatable whale to visit, and hands-on activities to make it fun and informative.”

The Whale Festival comes at an exciting time for whale lovers on the Gulf coast, as the Rice’s whale was identified as a new species of whale just three years ago.

“The first exciting news is that there’s been a newly discovered species of whale from the Gulf of Mexico, the second breaking news is there’s a new festival to celebrate this discovery and bring what we know to the public in a very family-friendly event to help educate the public about this new species, ” says James (Buddy) Powell,  Chief Zoological Officer & Executive Director, Clearwater Marine Aquarium and Clearwater Marine Aquarium Research Institute.

Space for vendors interested in sharing environmental and marine life education is available for free, but space is limited. To apply for booth space please contact Christian Wagley at gulfcoastwhale@gmail.com or follow the registration link here: https://shorturl.at/goz59

The Festival is hosted by Healthy Gulf, with sponsorship by Clearwater Marine Aquarium Research Institute, Natural Resources Defense Council, and Healthy Gulf. For more information: https://healthygulf.org/get-involved/gulf-coast-whale-festival/