Mother Earth Monday: Flotsam Sculpture Rises

This weekend as I kayaked past the old Salvador Dali museum grounds I saw a sculpture rising from the USF/ Poyntner Institute Park on the edge of Tampa Bay made of pastic debris found at sea, or flotsam.  My friend CJ Reynolds sent this information about the project:

Artists and marine scientists are teaming up with local youth and community organizations to make a massive sculpture to call attention to marine debris and the terrible impacts on wildlife and coastal ecosystems

Most people don’t realize that trash in our streets and parks moves into storm drains and ends up in our waterways and beaches. There, plastic debris such as bags can entangle, or is eaten by marine birds, turtles and dolphins causing horrific wounds, or even death.

Because proper litter prevention and recycling are old topics, the scientists at the University of South Florida College of Marine Science wanted a new and exciting way to call attention to the topic and connect with youth and the community. So they recruited a team of artists from Georgia State University to design and build a massive sculpture using reclaimed plastics and marine debris from our community.

The artists – who has also been disgusted by trash while snorkeling — proposed to create a sculpture called Current Collections. It has five branching steel arms, which span 40 ft across and reach 30 ft. into the air, like a massive, spinning vortex. The steel arms will be covered with a multi-colored translucent plastic skin which is made from melted bags and debris. The structure represents a rotating ocean gyre or eddy. When people walk into the center, they will experience the swirling plastic as if they were in the eddy under water and see embedded messages which encourage reuse, recycling and proper disposal.

The artists and scientists spoke to the community on May 20 at the Science Café hosted at the Dali Museum. The “Let’s Talk Trash” cafe featured the Gulf of Mexico NOAA marine debris program manager and others discussing impacts of plastics, business and community recycling needs, ideas for creative reuse of plastics….The Sci Café is moderated by Rob Lorei.

Also on Tuesday May 20, NOAA  held a meeting in St. Petersburg with agencies and organizations from across the state to strengthen regional effectiveness by sharing successes and challenges in tackling existing marine debris priorities, and by beginning to develop a state-wide plan to address both everyday marine debris and debris generated by severe weather.

Debris has been collected by volunteers from Keep Pinellas Beautiful beach clean ups and trash from the USF St. Petersburg campus. This summer, the artists worked with community groups and afterschool organizations in Pinellas and Hillsborough Counties to create the plastic sections. The sculpture will debut at the St. Petersburg Science Festival, October 17-18, 2014 and kick-off the Clean Community-Clean Coast outreach campaign led by USF CMS.

The Flotsam Sculpture in St. Petersburg, Florida
The Flotsam Sculpture in St. Petersburg, Florida