Harpo the Harbor Seal and Our Diverse Waters: A Multigenerational puppet play for a Water Ceremony

Harpo: Hi there, I'm Harpo the harbor seal. I come back each year and more and more of my friends join me to hang out in Staten Island waters.

I'm glad to be invited here to this gathering where you are bringing water from different places this morning. Water is one of my favorite things, right up there with the crunchy morsels in the sea.

Just like all of you, all of us that live in the sea are different. Yet we can all harmonize in singing one song of the sea. My harbor seal sound—it's a sound that goes like this: whew huh, whew huh, whew huh. Try it with me—whew huh, whew huh, whew huh. Yeah—that's how I like to move through the water.

There's Sheila Shark. Sheila, share your story about what happened millions of years ago here on Staten Island.

Sheila Shark: Well folks, I know you might be scared of me but my kind have been swimming in these waters for millions of years. How about singing a little shark ditty? It goes: "boom baba boom, boom baba boom." Try it with me—"boom baba boom, boom baba boom". Great, you people aren't half bad at learning shark!

When I was a wee little shark, I heard stories about the beginnings of some of the waters surrounding Staten Island. The stories spread to all little sharks because you see millions of years ago, my ancestors, my great, great ,great, great, great—well more greats than I can say out loud today, lived on the land until they made it to the seas where we have been ever since.

But millions of years ago, ice covered the whole northern area. Ice sheets started traveling south, bringing boulders and soil with them. Then about 12,000 years ago, it started getting hot and the last ice glacier disappeared from Staten Island. As the ice melted, all those rocks spread out across the Island, making all those hills here. And ponds formed as the ice melted.

The word in the ocean is that sharks wouldn't be caught dead in those little water puddles, but frogs, turtles and salamanders live in them. We sharks don't want to go back to dry land or little ponds, but we care about all the diverse waters and we hope you do too.

Sometimes human beans are so scared of us sharks and say how bad we are, that people on Staten Island have great big ol' contests just to see who can kill the biggest shark. We just do what we're built to do—these great big ol' teeth of mine help me stay alive. There are tons of us sharks in the water. We usually stay way away from human beans. Just remember that when you're in the ocean. Hey,—here's Daphne and David Dolphin. Sharks and dolphins may go nose to nose but let's see what they have to say.

Daphne: What you say reminds me about what it's like for us dolphins out there. Even though people think we're really smart and cool—and we are!—some of our pod got trapped in a net not too long ago. Though there are nets that let the dolphins and sea turtles escape, they're hardly ever used. We never saw our pod members again.

I wonder how you humans get along together even though I can see you all look and sound different. I guess, like us, you realize we're all swimming in the same big ocean, "'neath the great big dipper". I think that's a song you're gonna sing later. Those words remind me to teach you the dolphin sound. David, help me out.

David: Sure, Daphne. You and I sing together: dip diddly dip,dip diddly dip. Come on, everyone: dip diddly dip,dip diddly dip.

Yes, that was great.

Fanny the fish, what do you have to share about watching out for our watery world?

Fanny the fish: well first, let me teach you a simple fishy melody. La la la la, la la la ". Now you try: "la la la la, la la, la, la". Now, we're swimming.

Yep, we fish love to swim in and out of coral in the sea. Coral evolved 200 million years ago, but most coral reefs are only 5 to 10,000 years old. Boating, swimming, diving, snorkeling, touching or walking on coral can destroy it. These things hurt our watery world down here.

Harpo the harbor seal: Thanks Fanny, the coral is so important to all of us. Before all of us water beings leave, let's all put our voices together and sing one song together: Remember the parts:

Harpo the harbor seal: whew huh, whew huh

Sheila the shark: boom baba boom, boom baba boom

Daphne and David Dolphin: dip diddly dip, dip diddly dip

Fanny the Fish: la la la la, la la la la, la la la la

Harpo So sing whatever part you want along with us as we celebrate our diversity(each critter sings its part and people join in wherever they want)—

Harpo the harbor seal: whew huh, whew huh

Sheila the shark: boom baba boom, boom baba boom

Daphne and David Dolphin: dip diddly dip, dip diddly dip

Fanny the Fish: la la la la, la la la la, la la la la

All Together: Thanks!

Harpo the Harbor Seal: Let's find ways, my human friends, to cherish one another and all the beings "that we live beside" so that "loving spirits will live forever,"as "we're all swimming to the other side".