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“Washed Ashore” Art and Education

By: Nir Barnea, Pacific Northwest Regional Coordinator for the NOAA Marine Debris Program

Henry the Fish near the Washed Ashore gallery in Bandon, Oregon.

Henry the Fish near the Washed Ashore gallery in Bandon, Oregon.

The first thing you see as you approach the Washed Ashore gallery in Bandon, Oregon, is a creation of plastic pieces and nets: Henry the Fish. Now retired from an illustrious career in many shows, Henry serves as a silent greeter. When you enter the gallery and look up, an ocean gyre is above you. It is made of a bluish fishing net, and plastic pieces of different shapes and colors “float” within it. A whale bone structure made of white plastic containers is in the center. To the side is a jellyfish, with its stinging tentacles made of plastic bottles. Under it is a sea star, with part of its anatomy made of plastic water bottles collected from the beach. There is an oil spill sculpture there, and masks, and other works of art – all made of marine debris. Although they are colorful, nothing is painted: there is plenty of marine debris in all shapes and colors available to give the sculptures any color in the rainbow, highlighting the message that marine debris is a prevalent problem we must address.

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For years, Washed Ashore has used marine debris to create art. Known for large art, it takes a community to create each piece. Marine debris is collected by volunteers and then cleaned, sorted, and turned into “art supplies.” Angela Haseltine Pozzi, Washed Ashore lead artist, designs each sculpture. Once designed, volunteers from school children to retirees help put pieces of debris together while Washed Ashore artists, led by Angela, use these pieces to put the finishing touches on the sculptures.

With support from the NOAA Marine Debris Program, Washed Ashore will take its art and message to schools. In collaboration with local teachers, Washed Ashore will work with Bandon-area children ranging from elementary to high school. Using a curriculum developed by the “Washed Ashore” program, they’ll teach about marine debris and its many negative impacts, how to prevent marine debris from happening in the first place, and how to turn collected debris into art.

For more information, check out Washed Ashore’s website or take a look at the project page on the NOAA Marine Debris Program website.

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DIY Tank Top-to-Tote for Summer Break

What is marine debris?  Well, you may not immediately think of them, but clothes and textiles can become marine debris if we don’t dispose of them properly or reuse them in some way. Here is an easy idea for re-purposing your clothes.

Take an old tank top, turn it inside-out, sew the bottom shut and you have a handy tote or beach bag. Now find your needle and thread to join us in preventing marine debris through arts & crafts!


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The Clean Community-Clean Coasts project debuts a Marine Debris Sculpture at the St. Petersburg, FL Science Festival

By: Kim Albins

At this year’s fourth annual St. Petersburg Science Festival I met one of our new Prevention through Education and Outreach partners from the University of South Florida – College of Marine Science.  Their project, Clean Community-Clean Coast (4 C’s for short), has the goal of bringing the community of St. Petersburg together to prevent marine debris and to change behavior related to littering. The opening act of the project was a massive, colorful marine debris sculpture. ‘The Current Collections’ a 40ft wide and 30ft high ocean gyre-like sculpture created quite a buzz at Science Fest and received international press coverage.

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Children across St. Petersburg helped create parts of the sculpture this past summer turning their trash and marine debris into unique artistic elements for the structure.

At the festival, many school groups received a special ‘sneak peak’ of exhibits and participated in educational games. The festival also featured more than 90 hands-on interactive exhibits drawing thousands of people.  Children and adults alike were impressed by the ‘Current Collections’ sculpture and the message about marine debris. Fun (and learning) was had by all!

The sculpture will remain in St. Petersburg for the next six-months and return to Science Festival in St. Petersburg in 2015.

Watch this video to learn how this impressive art and science collaboration came together.

Video Caption: Tom Cawthon of the Poynter Institute filmed/edited the video which shows the key steps in the five-day onsite construction process of the new Current Collections sculpture made from reclaimed plastics and steel in Poytner Park, St. Petersburg. The Poynter Institute for Media Studies will help tell the Clean Coast story and support neighborhood civic engagement via the “Clean Community Forums.”

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California Students Present at Ocean Plastics Pollution Summit

By: Sherry Lippiatt

An amazing thing happened at the Monterey Bay Aquarium this spring.

In the final piece of a NOAA Marine Debris Program and Monterey Bay Aquarium effort, students gathered to present their innovative year-long projects on reducing the amount of plastic that enters the ocean.

This talented collection of students reached 19,605 people and brought even more results from projects at schools across the region:

Quantifying Action Project Impact

Quantifying Action Project Impact

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Not Your Average Homework: High School Students Help Clean Up Tsunami Debris in Alaska

By Margot O’Connell, Guest Blogger

Students from Pacific High School in Sitka, Alaska have teamed up with the marine debris crew at the Sitka Sound Science Center to work as part of our NOAA tsunami marine debris community cleanup project. During their student orientation camping trip in September, we took them out to a beach on Biorka Island near Sitka, where they surveyed the shoreline using the NOAA marine debris protocol and cleaned up everything that they found.

The people of Japan experienced a great human tragedy, and in a way, many of the students at this alternative high school have found that picking up tsunami debris is a metaphor for their own lives. They have faced challenges such as homelessness, family problems, addiction, and the death of a fellow student this year. Basically, they’re more than familiar with the concept of “picking up the pieces” and are using this experience as basis for understanding the magnitude of Japan’s tragedy.

The students spent the rest of their camping trip discussing what that they found and what the tsunami meant for the people of Japan, as well as how the aftermath of the tsunami debris is affecting the rest of the world (in addition to the usual talk of homework and plans for the coming year).

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The trip was a great success, and the kids from Pacific High decided that they didn’t want to stop there. They are continuing to work with the Sitka Sound Science Center and plan on doing another cleanup next September and comparing their results. With the help of their art teacher Heather Bauscher, they have also designed and built an art installation made out of the debris they collected to adorn the halls of their brand new school building. The installation pays tribute to the victims of the Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami.

Lisa Busch, the director of SSSC, will help them put together a radio segment about the work that they have done, which will air on Alaska Public Radio. The project has been an amazing experience so far for both the students and the Sitka Sound Science Center crew. We look forward to seeing all the great work that these kids will do over the coming year!

Margot O’Connell is the Sitka Sound Science Center’s marine debris coordinator.

Sitka Sound Science Center Marine Debris Coordinator. – See more at:


Congratulations, 2014 Art Contest Winners

We are proud to present the winners of our 2014 Keep the Sea Free of Debris! art contest. These 13 works of art, which we chose from hundreds of submissions, will be featured in our 2015 Marine Debris Calendar later this year.
Each year, the NOAA Marine Debris Program holds the Keep the Sea Free of Debris! art contest to help raise awareness among K-8 students about one of the most significant problems our oceans face today. The resulting calendar, with the winning artwork, will help remind us every day how important it is for us to be responsible stewards of the ocean.

Thank you to all the students and schools that participated in this year’s contest!


Gyre: The Plastic Ocean, now on exhibit

By: Asma Mahdi

Gyre: The Plastic Ocean is now on exhibit at the Anchorage Museum. It features debris from a 2013 scientific expedition to study marine debris in Alaska and debris artifacts from across the globe.  The exhibition will run through Sept. 6, 2014. Take a peek at some of the pieces on display at the museum:

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