(31 Jul 2018) LEADIN:
A new family of sea creatures has joined an aquarium in New Orleans - and it's entirely made of plastic.
The giant sculptures of marine animals at the Audubon Aquarium of the Americas are all made from plastic waste found washed up on beaches.
Among them is a great white shark made partly of bottle caps and beach toys and a jellyfish made mostly of cut-up water bottles.
The underwater tunnel at the Audubon Aquarium of the Americas in New Orleans brings visitors right into the underwater world of the planet's oceans.
And in addition to the splendid array of sealife to be gazed at - there's also this - plastic waste - something that is set to outnumber fish and marine life in our oceans in the next 50 years according to conservationists.
This giant sculpture of a marlin fish has been created from plastic rubbish that has washed up on beaches around the Pacific Coast. It's part of an exhibition within the aquarium called Washed Ashore: Art to Save the Sea.
"So, we're very excited about the Washed Ashore exhibits, because, two things: one, it's entertainment, because obviously when you look at this, there's so much to look at – and we're going to create some fun games with that – but the second thing that's really most important is, this is all garbage that washed up on the Pacific Coast in one area that they picked up. So, as an aquarium, conservation is our big issue, and we need people to know that healthy oceans means no plastics," says Brenda Walkenhorst the director of education projects for the aquarium.
This great white shark is made up partly of bottle caps and beach toys.
Walkenhorst hopes the exhibition will make people realize just how much plastic gets into the world's waterways, and from there into the ocean.
"Maybe not everybody lives near the ocean, and we don't think about the effects of throwing a bottle of plastic in the trash can. It may not make it to an incinerator, in fact, most of it doesn't. It ends up washing out into our waterways and into the ocean," she says.
The sculptures are the creation of Angela Haseltine Pozzi, who started making the pieces after seeing plastic heaped by the waves onto the Oregon coast.
"I wanted it to be beautiful from a distance, and then horrifying and a real wake-up call when you get up close," she says.
Pozzi says humans need to rethink their use of plastics – especially plastic items that are only used once and thrown away, including cups and straws.
"The majority of plastics that are being produced now are used once and thrown away, about 60 percent of everything that we buy is only used once and thrown away, which is - shows you the kind of rethinking we need to do."
Pozzi has an army of volunteers - about 10,000 since she started in 2010 - who help her collect, prepare and assemble the beach trash into art.
One of Pozzi's major conservation concerns is the great white shark.
"I wanted to really show the beauty and the importance of great white sharks and also raise awareness about how they're really threatened," she says.
"Her top teeth are actually made of toilet seats that I chopped and carved. And, her bottom teeth is a big PVC pipe that we cut up to get the curve, a little curve on those teeth."
There's also a walk-through whale ribcage made with bucket lids, bottles, buoys, and bait traps.
"The Baleen and the feeders, they just open their mouths and go through the water, and things are coming in without them purposely going after them, and that's scary."
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