Greta the Great White Shark, Natasha the Turtle and their oceanic friends — huge and beautiful artworks made of marine debris — will arrive Dec. 9 at Mote Marine Laboratory & Aquarium as our newest exhibit, “Sea Debris: Awareness through Art,” featuring “Washed Ashore.”

We have all heard the three “R” words — reduce, re-use, recycle — and many have even adopted a fourth — refuse — in an effort to decrease waste. Despite such “go green” initiatives, Americans still generate 4.4 pounds of trash per person daily, on average. That’s pretty shocking, especially considering where much of this debris ends up: in the ocean. Mote scientists consistently see marine debris impacts on local sea life, which has brought this issue to the forefront of Mote Aquarium’s outreach efforts.

Mote visitors can view the “Sea Debris” art exhibit Dec. 9 through June 2018. It features larger-than-life, marine-inspired sculptures made entirely of plastic and other debris gathered from the Oregon coastline. These handmade pieces range from 15 feet long and 10 feet wide to 7 feet long and 8 feet high. More than seven of these realistic but whimsical sculptures at Mote will fascinate and educate children, the young at heart and all those who seek creative solutions to environmental challenges.

“As a leader in marine literacy, Mote is always seeking to display exhibits that not only entertain our guests, but also teach them how they can be good stewards of the ocean,” said Evan Barniskis, Assistant Vice President of Mote Aquarium. “’Sea Debris’ is a fun and creative way to start the conversation regarding an issue that is affecting all of the world’s oceans on a macro- and microscopic scale. It is our hope that this exhibit opens guests’ eyes, not just to the problem, but to the solutions regarding sea pollution.”

During the exhibit’s stay, guests can enjoy exhibit-related events such as scavenger hunts, science cafes, film festivals and much more. Dates will be announced later this fall.

About “Washed Ashore”

“Washed Ashore” is a non-profit community art project founded by artist and educator Angela Haseltine Pozzi in 2010. The project is based in Bandon, Oregon, where Angela first recognized the amount of plastic washing up on the beaches she loved and decided to take action. Over the past six years, “Washed Ashore” has processed tons of plastic pollution from Pacific beaches to create monumental art that is awakening the hearts and minds of viewers to the global marine debris crisis. Learn more about "Washed Ashore" at www.washedashore.org.

This exhibit is paid for in part by Sarasota County Tourist Development Tax revenues.