Sea Lion Learns to Recycle for World Oceans Day

Max the 500-pound California sea lion crunches his black teeth onto an empty two-liter Pepsi bottle. He speeds to his trainer, Oregon Coast Aquarium mammalogist Brittany Blades, who waits for him next to a recycling bin. Max hops out of the water, heads to the container and drops the bottle in, completing his new “recycle” behavior. The sound of a whistle, cheers from the watching crowd, a hi-five from Blades, and fish reward his good deed.

Max started learning to recycle about six weeks ago to promote responsible use and disposal of plastic to Aquarium visitors in honor of the 2015 World Oceans Day theme, “Healthy Oceans, Healthy Planet.” The goal is to call attention to the ocean’s inextricable link to the well-being of our planet, and how stopping plastic pollution benefits the world’s largest ecosystem – from plankton to people.

World Oceans Day is a big deal at the Oregon Coast Aquarium. The annual event is celebrated by organizations across the globe to promote understanding and stewardship of the ocean.

At the Aquarium, staff, volunteers and even animals, including Max, will go above and beyond to make the June 6 event extra special for Aquarium visitors.

While many of the event’s subjects are serious, the delivery of these messages often assume silly forms. A friendly plastic bag monster will lurk about the exhibits to encourage visitors to take the Better Bag Challenge to minimize their consumption of single-use plastics.

Youngsters and their families can dive into an ocean of fun during participatory video presentations by BLUE Ocean Film Festival award-winners Sisbro Studios.

A scientist will dissect a large broadnose sevengill shark (Notorynchus cepedianus) and long-snouted lancetfish (Alepisaurus ferox) to help visitors understand these powerful ocean predators better than ever before.

The squeamish may prefer to sample seaweed pickles during an Edible Ocean Demonstration, chat with divers as they swim with sharks in Passages of the Deep or embark on a scavenger hunt to win Aquarium treasures, including sleepovers, animal paintings and a chance to smooch a seal or sea lion!

World Oceans Day activities are free with Aquarium admission and advance registration is not required. For more information visit or call 541-867-FISH.

The Oregon Coast Aquarium is dedicated to the highest quality aquatic and marine science programs for recreation and education so that the public better understands, cherishes, and conserves the world’s natural marine and coastal resources. An accredited Association of Zoos & Aquariums institution, this 501(c)3 non-profit organization is ranked as one of the top 10 aquariums in the U.S. Visit us at 2820 S.E. Ferry Slip Rd., Newport, OR., 541-867-3474. Follow us on, or for the latest updates.

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