Dr. Peter Kareiva might be forgiven for having second thoughts about taking the job as president and CEO of the Aquarium of the Pacific.
Kareiva took over in late July from longtime aquarium CEO Dr. Jerry Schubel. The aquarium had already gone through the March pandemic shutdown, a reopening, then a partial shutdown, leaving only outdoor exhibits available to the public.
"COVID is not going to stop the Aquarium from celebrating our animals and all that the ocean gives us," Kareiva said in a statement. "We have learned to live with COVID and to even thrive in new ways — just look at our virtual Pacific Pals show."
Now the aquarium's biggest fundraiser, Sea Fare, is going online. For its first 16 years, Sea Fare attracted attendees with samplings from more than 20 restaurants and breweries, an open bar, auctions and a "go fish" donation game.
"As many other nonprofits have had to do, we're pivoting to have our event virtually," said Jillian Koehring, the aquarium's development event manager. "The 17th annual Sea Fare will be free to livestream… Not only will we be providing something great to our supporters, it allows us to reach out to a new audience, too."
Koehring agreed that it will be difficult to replace the on-site experience, with the chance to wander the aquarium to view the animals at night, live music and the rest. But, she said, the aquarium staff has been hard at work preparing special activities for the livestream event Saturday, Oct. 17.
"We're programming the evening with some up close visits with some of our favorite animals," Koehring said. "We'll have interviews with some of our staff, and we'll be live at the aquarium the entire evening."
One component of past Sea Fares, the silent auction, is back and bigger than in the past. People are able to see what's up for auction early by registering — for free — early at www.seafare.org. The auction also opens early — noon Wednesday, Oct. 14 — and closes Sea Fare at 10 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 17. The livestream show starts at 7 p.m. that night.
There will not be a live auction this year, because most of those items typically are trips, and "that wouldn't be very appropriate right now," Koehring said.
"We will miss the revenue from ticket sales, but we've really beefed up sponsorships this year," she added. "And there are other ways people can support us — feeding ur animals, our programs. And it's all tax deductible."
This year's fund-raising goal is $180,000, just a bit more than the $159,000 raised last year. Raising money now is particularly important, she said, to help the aquarium recover from the pandemic closures.
For more information or to register, go to www.seafare.org.