Scales & Ales aquarium gala helps to combat plastic pollution

While dancing beneath the stars and dining on food from several of the city’s best restaurants, partygoers at The Aquarium’s annual fundraiser will learn more about the organization’s campaign to fight plastic pollution — one of the gravest threats facing marine wildlife.

Nearly 300 million tons of plastic are produced each year, and less than 10 percent of it is recycled. The trash travels through waterways and into the ocean. The debris entangles and kills marine life and contaminates the fish we eat.

“Funds raised from this event will help us create interpretive carts where we can show people the effects of plastic,” said Brenda Walkenhorst, the director the Audubon Nature Institute’s Education Projects.

The carts travel to schools and are wheeled around Audubon’s facilities. “This event helps support doing more educational programming throughout the year,” she said.

The 9th annual Scales & Ales takes place on Friday, Oct. 5, from 8 to 11 p.m., in and around the Audubon Aquarium of the Americas. Tickets for the adults-only event are $65 for Audubon members, and $75 for non-members.

The celebration features food from 50 local restaurants, with a collective menu that includes mini alligator sausage po-boys from Kingfish; tuna poke “ice cream cones” from Cavan Restaurant & Bar; smoked Cobia from Seaworthy; and smoked fish tostadas from Araña Taqueria y Cantina.

Guests can sip wine, specialty cocktails, and a variety of beers from Abita Brewing Company. The Abita Beer Garden will offer Andygator, Blueberry Wheat Harvest and Pecan Ale, among other brews.

Plum Street Snoballs will serve refreshing snoballs and “snowtinis.”

As for music, The Mixed Nuts will perform on the main stage, while DJ Brice Nice plays inside The Aquarium’s lobby. The Sirens of New Orleans will dazzle the crowd with their shimmery mermaid costumes and dance moves.

Conservation efforts

In 2017, the Audubon Nature Institute eliminated plastic straws and bags from their premises. They are now hoping to significantly decrease the number of plastic beverage bottles, as well.

This year, Scales & Ales will offer guests eco-friendly alternatives, such as water served in aluminum cans. YLC Recycles will assist with recycling throughout the night.

Scales & Ales coincides with “Washed Ashore: Art to Save the Sea.’’ This limited-time exhibition features larger-than-life aquatic animal sculptures crafted from colorful bits of plastic trash, collected from Pacific Coast beaches. It illustrates how plastic pollution threatens the ecosystems of the world’s oceans and waterways.

The Aquarium will showcase eight installations during the event.

“When you look at the exhibits, you’ll see hundreds of plastic bottles, but you’ll also see things you didn’t think about, like flip-flops and beach toys,” said Walkenhorst. “The exhibit changed the way that I think about plastics, or single-use plastics.”

Since 2010, Scales & Ales has raised more than $1.4 million for The Aquarium’s education and conservation programs.

“The fundraiser will be a real educational opportunity, because you’re going to be drinking and enjoying music, but then right next to you, you will see these exhibits that raise awareness about plastics, especially single-use plastics,” she said. “The theme is incorporated from the minute you walk through the door. Everything you encounter has our message on it.”

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Scales & Ales 

WHEN: 8 p.m.  Friday, Oct. 5

WHERE: Audubon Aquarium of the Americas

1 Canal St., New Orleans

TICKETS: $65 and up

INFO: audubonnatureinstitute.org