Heal the Bay’s Santa Monica Pier Aquarium will highlight the significance of the ocean during the marine education facility’s Ocean Appreciation Celebration Saturday and Sunday, August 29th and 30th.

The aquarium, 1600 Ocean Front Walk (beach level, directly beneath the Santa Monica Pier), will be open regular summer hours from 12:30 to 6 p.m. both days of the event.

With about 70 percent of the Earth’s surface covered with water, the ocean plays an integral role in people’s lives in a myriad of ways, pier aquarium staff said.

Special presentations and activities illustrating the ocean’s affect on people’s lives, as well as society’s impact on the ocean will be the focus of the celebration.

Visitors can help transform the aquarium’s lab into a giant kelp forest, and learn how they can help the environmental organization Heal the Bay establish a network of underwater parks, known as Marine Protected Areas (MPAs).

The state is now holding meetings to create a Southern California network of MPAs, which environmentalists say result in healthier, more resilient ecosystems. The areas replenish fish populations by providing fish a safe haven to grow larger and breed, environmentalists note.

A presentation on underwater photography at the aquarium event will highlight the importance of underwater parks and showcase the wonders of the ocean with photos of diverse marine life. Visitors can explore algae at an activity station on the marine center’s patio and view wildlife in the Santa Monica Bay at an observation station at the west end of the pier.

Arts and crafts, face painting, screenings of environmental films and story times for the youngest visitors will take place as well. A presentation and feeding at the shark tank is scheduled to begin at 3:30 p.m. Sunday, August 30th.

Information, www.healthebay.org/smpa/, or (310) 393-6149.

Admission is free for children under 13 when accompanied by an adult; admission is $2 for all others, with a suggested $5 donation.

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