Venice Oceanarium celebrates 20th annual reading of Herman Melville’s ‘Moby Dick’

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Dov Rudnick reading Moby Dick on Venice Beach. PHOTO BY OSA HARMON

Since 1995, the Venice Oceanarium has invited readers to discover or rediscover the great literary masterpiece, Moby Dick.

The detailed and realistic descriptions of whale hunting draws on Melville’s experience at sea, on his reading in whaling literature, as well as life aboard ship among a culturally diverse crew, mixed with exploration of class and social status, good and evil, and the existence of God.

Venice Oceanarium Founder/Director Tim Rudnick said he has read Moby Dick 19 times on the beach with the Venice Oceanarium.

“I love the book,” Rudnick said. “It is exciting… insightful… meditative. It grows on you.”

The Venice Oceanarium holds the Moby Dick readings especially this time of year in recognition of the California gray whale migration.

The gray whale makes one of the longest of all mammalian migrations, averaging 10,000-14,000 miles (16,000-22,530 km) round trip.

In October, the whales begin to leave their feeding grounds in the Bering and Chukchi Seas and head south for their mating and calving lagoons in Baja California, Mexico.

The Venice Oceanarium, “A museum without walls,” has a mission to impart a better understanding of the ocean and the life within it through the arts and sciences and to celebrate the unique natural habitats of Venice Beach. They hold events on Venice Beach, the Venice Pier, Oakwood and Venice Beach Recreation Centers, Israel Levin Senior Center, Venice Library, Chase Burton Park in the Marina, Ecole Claire Fontaine (French School), and Westminster Elementary School. These community and family-orientated events and workshops are all free of charge.

The Venice Fishing Pier Project was created to educate and inspire the public about the ocean and features a weekly display of marine biological specimens, other oceanographic items, poetry placards relating to the ocean and opportunities for kids to draw fish.

Workshops are held in schools, recreations centers and libraries and are hands on and provide opportunities to explore the living laboratory of the sea and dive into the world of sharks, jellyfish, sea stars, crabs and more.

The popular Grunion Run Party on Venice Beach introduces the public to Venice’s robust population of grunion, a unique species of fish known for their unusual mating ritual.

The organization was founded in 1986 by Tim Rudnick, who serves as the director. He is a native of Los Angeles and considers Venice Beach to be his hometown, having spent his childhood and the past 46 years here. He holds a B.A. in Art History from UC Riverside and has taken more than 60 post graduate units in Marine Biology, Oceanography, and the Earth Sciences. He taught classes for 15 years on the research vessel Vantuna with board member and Santa Monica College biology instructor, the late Ed Tarvyd.

Professor Tarvyd’s students are the beneficiaries of his lifelong study of the sea and its sciences. Ed was a fighter to protect the Ballona Wetlands and lead several field trips to the Tahitian atoll of Teti’aroa and was also an adviser to Marlon Brando.

This year, the Venice Oceanarium has partnered with: the Los Angeles County Beaches and Harbors for the Moby Dick reading, and the City of Los Angeles Department of Recreation and Parks for the Venice Fishing Pier Project. The LA Opera will provide discounted tickets to the contemporary operatic masterpiece Moby Dick and Warner Brothers is providing tickets to a special screening of “In the Heart of the Sea,” directed by Ron Howard and written by Nathaniel Philbrick.

The Venice Oceanarium is funded by the Abbot Kinney Festival Association, local businesses, and individuals. This year’s Moby Dick reading is sponsored by General Real Estate Management, Shout!Factory, Hotel Erwin, Venice Boardwalk Association, and Venice Beach Suites & Hotel. Media sponsors include the Beachhead, Venice Paparazzi, and Yo!Venice.

Community sponsors include: Enterprise Fish Company, Los Angeles County Beaches and Harbors, Small World Books and Whole Foods Market Venice.

Join the celebration and shared reading of the complete book, Saturday, Nov. 21 and Sunday, Nov. 22, from 8 am to 10 pm both days at the end of Windward Avenue, on Venice Beach near the breakwater rocks.

Come read aloud or just listen and also enjoy the beauty of Venice Beach. The Venice Oceanarium is a not-for-profit, tax exempt organization. To contribute or for more information visit www.veniceoceanarium.org. Sign up now to read your favorite chapter at [email protected]

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