BANDON, Ore. – It’s estimated there’s 11 million tons of trash floating in the North Pacific Ocean. Every year, 100,000 marine mammals and sea turtles die getting tangled up in it.
Progress to reduce ocean pollution is being made in Bandon on the south Oregon coast. One bottle, one flip-flop, one small piece of plastic at a time.
Artist Angela Haseltine Pozzi says she has a vision as big as the oceans that she’s worried about.
“This is about the ocean and it’s a huge, huge problem, and it needs to be a huge, huge exhibit, and it needs really large sculptures and it needs to travel around the world. I thought really big,” Pozzi said.
A sea lion, sea horse, sea star and a huge jellyfish sit inside the Bandon Harbor Town Event Center. All made from ten tons of plastic picked up, after washing up on south Oregon beaches.
Haseltine Pozzi was the conceptual designer of the massive sculptures, but countless hands played a part. Ashlyn James, of Iowa, was concerned about the ocean too.
“It’s pretty scary to me a little bit because it’s this huge thing and it’s just cluttered with things that can hurt everything,” James said.
Old beach debris is dropped off, sorted, washed, dried, cut up a then driven up to the event center. An assembly line of students, seniors, moms, dads and kids help build the sculptures.
“The green over here is the seaweed that is going to go at the bottom of this fish right here that we’re going to be building,” James said.
Small pieces are wired together to make bigger ones. At each table, a different sculpture in being made.
“For example this piece here, each one of these tentacles was created by a different person. It could have been a kindergartner that strung these together. It’s probably a senior citizen who cut the bottoms off,” Haseltine Pozzi said.
Outside, the final product takes shape and eventually heads to a new home.
Impressed by Washed Ashore, Sea World has ordered 12 sculptures for San Diego, San Antonio and Orlando; spreading the message to 15 million people.
The entire Bandon business community has backed Washed Ashore. Volunteers receive shopping discounts around town and even hotel accommodations.
To donate, volunteer or learn more, check out Washed Ashore’s website.