By Donald WittkowskiFinley Corcory, 3, and her 1-year-old sister, Tatum, didn’t hesitate or flinch when Haley Faith of the Wetlands Institute held out a horseshoe crab for them to touch.Letting out a few giggles, the girls, who live in Marmora, gently caressed the helmet-like shell as though they were petting an adorable puppy – not a creature that has creepy legs and nearly 20 eyes.“He’s smooth. He’s also hard,” Finley said. “He’s kind of scary looking and has spikes.”Finley, Tatum and others – children and adults – were able to learn about horseshoe crabs and other marine life Friday during the annual Ocean City Green Fair, an environmental forum at the Music Pier that touched on an array of topics about the Jersey Shore and its diverse eco-system.Faith, who serves as outreach coordinator for the Wetlands Institute in Stone Harbor, smiled while listening to Finley’s comments about the horseshoe crab. The hope is that by exposing Finley, Tatum and other youngsters to marine life when they are children, they will grow up to become the next generation of environmentally conscious people, Faith explained“I think it’s critical because they’re the future for wildlife and nature,” Faith said. “If not for them, there wouldn’t be a future for wildlife and nature.”Ryan Kanoff, of Horsham, Pa., and his daughters, Victoria, 7, and Ryleigh, 5, check out a ball python held by Kendra Verity of the Cape May County Zoo.The Green Fair gave people of all ages an opportunity to see land animals and marine creatures in an entirely different setting. They were close enough to touch them – if they dared.After a bit of coaxing, MaryJo Fallon tentatively stroked the body of a ball python that was wrapped around the hand of a curator from the Cape May County Zoo.“Never,” Fallon exclaimed when asked whether she thought she would have the nerve to pet a snake. “But it was so smooth and cool. It’s all about overcoming fears.”Fallon, who lives in Haddon Heights and was visiting Ocean City during a trip to the shore, said the Green Fair appealed to her on a personal level.“I consider myself to be environmentally conscious,” she said. “We recycle paper, plastic and glass. We also try to conserve water.”The Green Fair included environmentally friendly exhibits on recycling, gardening, electricity, solar power and climate change.The Green Fair features an array of environmentally friendly exhibits, including recycling, solar power and climate change.Sponsored by the Ocean City Environmental Commission, the fair underscores the importance of the shore’s fragile eco-system and how to protect it. The commission plays a key role in that process by educating the public about the ocean, the beaches, the dunes and the marine life.Among other topics, the commission has published a series of fliers to educate the public about the dunes, the diamondback terrapins, the dangers of pesticides and fertilizers and the potential harm to turtles from deflated balloons.Summer is a particularly crucial time for the seashore environment. Ocean City and other beach towns are visited by hundreds of thousands of tourists each year. The Environmental Commission serves as a go-between to try to help avoid any conflicts between so many visitors and the shore’s natural resources. The Green Fair is one way it fulfills its mission.Organizations such as the Wetlands Institute and Cape May County Zoo participate in the Green Fair to help the Environmental Commission educate the public.Kendra Verity, an education curator at the zoo, said she often takes animals to schools, libraries, campgrounds, senior centers and environmental fairs to let people see them up close in an unintimidating way.“It’s all about making a connection between people and the animals, so we can inspire them to protect the animals,” Verity said.A diamondback terrapin, native to the marshlands of the Jersey Shore, rests on a rock in a display tank. Sisters Finley and Tatum Corcory, of Marmora, pet a horseshoe crab held by Haley Faith of the Wetlands Institute during the 2018 Green Fair.