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JEREMY HOBSON: I don’t know for sure, but it’s probably a good bet that Labor Day is one of the biggest boating days of the year in the U.S. So let’s hop on board a ship in Long Beach, Calif., for our next story.
That’s where a new boat excursion takes passengers through some of the busiest waters in the world.
Here’s Caitlin Carroll.
CAITLAN CARROLL: On a sunny afternoon in Long Beach, Calif., dozens of tourists and locals board a small passenger boat. It’s moored outside of an aquarium.
Jerry Schubel: This is The Caroline and we’re getting ready to go on the very first urban ocean cruise.
Jerry Schubel is director of the Aquarium of the Pacific in Long Beach. It’s about a half hour south of Los Angeles. Schubel started the Urban Ocean Cruise to educate passengers about this piece of very productive but also very fragile coastline.
Schubel: We will be going into the inner parts of the nation’s two largest ports, and so we will take them places that they would probably not notice on their own.
The cruise covers the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, which handle almost 40 percent of all U.S. cargo traffic. Passengers pay $30 for a view of rusty cranes, massive container ships and hulking power plants.
High school senior Natalie Delossa is unimpressed. She thinks the ports are kind of a gross place to visit.
Natalie Delossa: You know how Paris has tours of the sewers? I think it’s a lot like that.
The Urban Boat Cruise does mention sewage and other environmental concerns. The aquarium talked to fishermen, longshoremen, shipping companies and even surfers to understand how people and wildlife interact with this busy harbor. The tour highlights ways the ports try to cut down on pollution. And passengers also hear how they can keep sea life swimming in cleaner waters.
Tour guide: Any trash, chemicals, fertilizers, pesticides that end up in our streets get washed down storm drains and carried out right here where the L.A. River meets the Pacific Ocean.
But for some passengers the Urban Ocean Cruise is just one big boat ride. William Buresh is seven years old.
William Buresh: You get to go under a draw bridge. See trains, see sea lions playing with seagulls. It was a very fun cruise!
Schubel needs at least 50 passengers every cruise to make the harbor tour viable long term.
In Long Beach, I’m Caitlan Carroll for Marketplace.
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