Chicago Joins National March for the Ocean

Sea turtle on the shore.

By Ann McElhatton

During the weekend following World Oceans Day on Friday, June 8, over 140 organizations, including the local Illinois Ocean Coalition, are converging across the country to “March for the Ocean,” to highlight the importance of clean water in our rivers, lakes, and oceans.

This vast coming together of grassroots and national organizations (e.g., Jean-Michel Cousteau’s Ocean Future’s Society, Mission Blue, Sierra Club, Surfrider Foundation and World Wildlife Fund) is taking place to demonstrate to government and polluting industries that we stand united to protect the waters that support life as well as our livelihoods.

You can support the ocean (and lakes that lead to the ocean) by participating in events held throughout Chicagoland from Thursday, June 7, to Tuesday, June 12. Here's how:

  • On June 7, “Blue: The Film” is showing at Regal Webster Place II, 1471 W. Webster Ave., in Chicago. Use the code INLANDOCEAN and a portion of your ticket cost goes to Inland Ocean Coalition. Please visit to reserve tickets.

  • Friday, June 8 (9 a.m. to noon): Children’s “Shells and Sharks” Program and children’s sign making party; Wonder Works Children’s Museum, 6445 W. North Ave., Oak Park.

  • Friday, June 8 (6 to 7 p.m.): Sign making party (continued); The Wasteshed, 2842 W. Chicago Ave., Chicago.

  • Saturday, June 9 (8 to 11 a.m.): Beach clean-up first; then meet at 10:30 a.m. with signs at the E. 98th St. beach for final beach sweep andmarch for support; Calumet Park, 9801 S. Avenue G, Chicago. Register here:

  • Saturday, June 9 (1:30 to 3 p.m.): “STRAWS the Film”(free screening); Guest speakers and raffle; Skokie Theatre, 7924 Lincoln Ave. Skokie; this event is hosted by Sydney Bitar, Teen Miss Great Lakes. Doors open at 1 p.m.

  • Sunday, June 10 (8 to 11 a.m.): Beach clean-up first; then meet up at 10:30 a.m. with signs at the lighthouse at Loyola Beach for final beach sweep and march for support; Loyola Beach, 1230 W. Greenleaf Ave. (Greenleaf Ave. @ Lake Michigan), Chicago. Register here:

  • Tuesday, June 12 (7 to 8:30 p.m.): “Blue Drinks” gathering featuring Madeline Caldwell, Sustainability Coordinator with Shedd Aquarium (speaking on sustainable seafood and plastic pollution); Buzz Café, 905 S. Lombard Ave., Oak Park.

  • Illinois residence free days on June 4, 5, 11, and 12 at the Shedd Aquarium, 1200 S. Lake Shore Dr., Chicago.

A healthy ocean means a healthy society – physically and economically. Tiny microscopic plants (phytoplankton), which float on the surface of the sea, provide 50% to 70% of the oxygen for the atmosphere. That’s more than all the rainforest combined. According to the National Ocean Economics Program database the value of ocean-related industries in Lake and Cook County from 2011 to 2015 is approximately $6.4 billion dollars each year. Also, ocean-related industries account for over 85,000 jobs each year during the same time period. These industries include construction, living resources (e.g., seafood processing, hatcheries, aquaculture), minerals, ship & boat building, tourism & recreation, and transportation.

Please contact Ann McElhatton, co-lead with the Illinois Ocean Coalition, at for more information about the events listed above or to learn more about the Illinois Ocean Coalition. The Illinois Ocean Coalition is a chapter of the Inland Ocean Coalition, a network of chapters dedicated to engaging inland communities in land-to-sea stewardship. Visit for more information, or for details about the national March for the Ocean event, visit