Trashy art is getting better and better. Some years ago, people
started transforming debris found on the beach into sculptures
worthy of an art show. Now the trashy art has gotten so good that
we can actually attend an art exhibit where trashy sculptures are
Called “Washed Ashore Exhibits,” one group of sculptures has
been placed in an ongoing display at the Smithsonian National
Museum of Natural History in Washington, D.C.
A traveling exhibit will open at Tacoma’s Point Defiance Zoo and
Aquarium beginning next week and continue until Oct. 21. I don’t
believe the pictures on this page or in the photo gallery
of sculptures on the Washed Ashore website truly capture the effect
of seeing these large sculptures up close.
Of course, the whole idea is to raise awareness about marine
debris, most of which begins with a careless discard of trash —
although some of the interesting items were probably lost by
accident. Regardless of the source, these plastics and other
materials don’t belong in the ocean, where they can harm sea life
in various ways, from ingestion to entrapment. Such debris also
turns our beaches into a trash dump.
A free 2017 calendar, published by the National Oceanic and
Atmospheric Administration, features winning artwork in a contest
that focuses on the problem of trash in the ocean, otherwise known
as marine debris.
More than 700 students from around the country participated in
the contest, and one of the 13 winners was a seventh grader from
Washington state named Sallie S. Neither her full name nor hometown
was disclosed, and I never received a response to an email sent to
her on my behalf by NOAA officials.
Sallie’s statement on the back of the calendar: “Marine debris
impacts our oceans and Great Lakes, because the plastic and other
garbage could badly injure or kill the sea animals. What I will do
to keep our ocean debris free is to not litter. Not littering is
very important, because if you litter the debris can go into
drains, then it can go into the lake or the sea. Then once it goes
in the sea, ocean organisms could then die.”
This week, I’d like to share some student artwork from two
One is a local event in which 10 Kitsap County students are
honored in the Kitsap Recycles Day contest, sponsored by Kitsap
County Public Works. The other contest is for students anywhere in
the country. Called the Keep the Sea Free of Debris contest, it is
sponsored by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric
The first poster featured on this page is by Li-Nelshin Co, a
fifth grader at Esquire Hills Elementary School, located in East
Bremerton and part of the Central Kitsap School District.
Li-Neishin wrote this about the poster:
“Recycling is important because we are saving the world for
future generations. My favorite thing to recycle is PAPER because
this way we are not only recycling, we are also saving the trees
that gives us fresh air, shade, preventing soil erosion.”
A couple years ago, the Kitsap Recycles Day poster contest was
moved from November to February and expanded into a broader
educational program. The delayed contest allowed teachers and/or
parents to provide more information than could have been completed
by America Recycles Day, celebrated in November. A new activity
“Close the Loop” (PDF 16.7 mb), is part of Kitsap’s expanded
“It’s incredibly encouraging to see the influx of posters we see
on Kitsap Recycles Day,” said Kitsap County Recycling Coordinator
Christopher Piercy in a news release.
“You can tell each student has a passion for recycling, reducing
waste, and the environment. It is especially fascinating to see the
grasp they all have on the value of ‘closing the loop’ — not just
recycling, but buying recycled content products.”
The other winners are Libby Parker,
kindergartener at Gateway Christian Schools, Poulsbo;
Natalie Oathout, first grader at Emerald Heights
Elementary School; Jeddison Miller, second grader
at Crosspoint Academy; Kelsey Derr, third grader
at Hilder Pearson Elementary School; Saige Herwig,
third grader at South Colby Elementary School; Charlotte
Halbert, fourth grader at Gateway Christian Schools,
Poulsbo; Blake Warner, fifth grader at Crosspoint
Academy; Drew Moar, sixth grader at Manchester
Elementary School; and Gia Acosta, eighth grader
at Our Lady Star of the Sea Catholic School.
The second poster on this page, a winner in the 2014 Keep the
Sea Free of Debris contest, was drawn by Jessica D., a fourth
grader in New York.
“Keep the sea free of debris. Debris is garbage, marine debris
is garbage in the sea. Marine debris is very bad. Marine debris is
mostly plastics, fishing gear and litter. Marine debris is very
harmful and dangerous to undersea creatures. This pollution can
ruin habitats. Marine wildlife can get hurt by marine debris. It
also can cost a lot of money to fix. But you can help fix it by
just cleaning beaches and not littering.”
The contest is sponsored by NOAA’s Marine Debris Program, which
asked contest entrants to create their “vision” of marine debris.
All 13 winners and their comments can be seen on a Gallery
Page on the Marine Debris Blog.
I really love this picture by Araminta “Minty” Little, a seventh
grader at Fairview Junior High School in Central Kitsap. Her
picture shows an octopus grasping trash that has been thrown into
Apparently, the judges in the annual Marine Debris Art Contest
also liked Minty’s picture. They named her one of 13 winners
nationwide out of more than 600 students from 21 states who entered
the contest, which is sponsored by the National Oceanic and
Minty’s drawing is a fine piece of work, but she also got high
marks for her concept, which carries a message about the dangers of
marine debris. As part of the contest, she was required to write a
bit about the problem. As quoted on the Central
Kitsap School District’s website, she explained:
“The picture I drew depicts a sea creature surrounded by
garbage. The octopus … is wrapping its tentacles around stray trash
preparing to throw it all back onto land. In the top right tentacle
is a sign reading ‘S.O.S.’ in parody to … an old sailing term.”
Silverdale’s waterfront is seeing the effects of recent storms
in our area, as documented by Susan Digby, a geography instructor
at Olympic College.
High stormwater flows have washed litter, debris and dead salmon
into Sinclair and Dyes inlets, where currents and winds from the
south carry the materials to Silverdale’s beaches, including
Silverdale Waterfront Park and Old Mill Park.
“The north end of Dyes Inlet is like the end of a sock,” Susan
told me. “When we get rain and wind, everything piles up
Photos of all this debris — including parts of three docks —
were taken by Susan on Sunday, just two weeks after her students
cleaned up the beach entirely as part of an ongoing study that
counts and categorizes marine debris that collects there.
A phenomenal amount of trash winds up on our beaches, including
discarded food wrappers that people have carelessly discarded. Just
about anything that floats can wash into a stream or storm drain to
be carried into one of our local inlets. Some debris may be coming
from the nearby streets and parking lots in Silverdale, but some
could be coming all the way from Gorst, as suggested by
drogue studies (PDF 1.6 mb) conducted by the Navy.
As Susan points out, the debris includes lots of Styrofoam,
which can be ingested by birds and sea creatures, as well as baby
diapers and syringes, which are a reminder that disease organisms
are making their way into our local waters with uncertain effects
on the fish and shellfish we eat.
I plan to cover Susan Digby’s student research project in more
detail early next year, after 2012 data are compiled.