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Art is a communal experience, and so is life on our fragile planet. Providing a space for Free Our Seas to exhibit its thought-provoking sculptures is a powerful way to show people that saving our oceans and its creatures is an urgent and worthwhile cause…because good planets are hard to come by.
As one of Florida’s most iconic fish species, the Grouper is critically endangered. Scientists believe that the number of Atlantic Groupers have been reduced by 80% through unsustainable fishing practices. Groupers are high on the food chain, and are most likely to ingest plastics. Studies published from 2017-2019 found that 33% of commercial fish samples contained microplastics and nanoplastics (smaller particles) which move from a fish’s stomach to its muscle tissue.
Created with 200 flip flops, 122 straws, 6 Fishing gloves, pool noodle, 2 dive flippers, 5 five gallon buckets and dive bag.
Vaquitas are one of the world’s rarest marine mammals and are on the edge of extinction. As of 2020, there are as few as 10 of these small cetaceans native to the northern part of the Gulf of California. Discarded plastic mesh gill nets (illegal fishing nets) are the single biggest cause of its near extinction.
Created with sand toys, 150 oil quart containers, diving fin, vacuum hoses.
Every year, 1 million seabirds die from plastic pollution, the majority of which have been found to have plastic in their stomachs. Brown Pelicans frequently ingest and/or become entangled in plastic. It was found that 20% of Pelicans are injured by plastic fishing lines in any estuary.
Created with 28 flip flops, 85 oil quart containers and a variety of other plastic containers, fishing net, fishing rope, buoy, fishing gear.
Flamingo and Plastic Island
Though Flamingos are not endangered, there are fewer today than there were 10 to 50 years ago. This is due to loss of habitat and pollution. There are probably more plastic pink flamingos adorning yards than live ones. Made of polyethylene, these flamingos don’t burn; they melt.
Created with sand toys, vacuum hoses, flippers, a variety of single-use plastics and marine debris.
Mahi-Mahi is a popular sporting fish that makes a frequent appearance on our dinner plate.
Unfortunately, research shows that many larval fish - Mahi-Mahi included - are surrounded by and ingest plastics in their nursery habitat. Adults are indiscriminate foragers and frequently eat non-food items entangled in seaweed. Plastic wrappers, string and even light bulbs have been found in the stomachs of Mahi-Mahi.
Created with a variety of colorful plastics.
Peacock (or Peafowl) populations are relatively stable, though one subspecies is currently on the endangered species list due to hunting for its meat and feathers and collection of its eggs and chicks. Land birds such as Peacocks are also uniquely at risk from plastic pollution because they use plastic bags and other garbage to line their nests. Plastic refuse has been found in the digestive tracts of their chicks and young birds learning to forage.
Created with a variety of over 150 plastic containers from laundry detergent, fabric softeners and potato chip containers, blow gun darts, a plastic buckle.
It’s difficult to know how many Manta Rays are left in the world’s oceans because of migratory patterns, but the Giant or Oceanic Manta Ray has been listed as endangered as of 2021. As is the case for most large marine life, plastic products clog up its stomach, making it impossible for it to digest food. Exposure to toxic byproducts of plastic pollutants alters its hormones, metabolism, growth and development and reproductive functions. Studies found that Reef Manta Rays that feed in Asian waters may ingest up to 63 pieces of plastic per hour.
Created with 215 oil quart containers, surfboard fin, plastic cat litter box, a variety of plastic filter parts, vacuum hoses.
Butterflies and other insects engage in a unique behavior called mud puddling or simply puddling. They congregate around muddy water for its minerals to supplement their diet. These extra salts and minerals are also sought out by male butterflies in particular to mix into their sperm, improving the viability of the females’ eggs.
When plastic bottles, packaging and other non degradable waste finds its way into our streams and rivers, pesticides degrade the quality of the nutrients essential to the butterflies’ survival and that of future generations.
20 balloons, 8 straws, 1 chicken toy pitcher, 10 plastic buckets, 1 electric rubber wire cover.
The iconic Florida Alligator is in trouble. Some plastics contain chemicals that affect hormones important for the reproduction of alligators. Some Florida lakes and waterways are so polluted, the mortality rate of alligator eggs are as high as 50 percent!
Alligators are apex predators that also indiscriminately chomp down on our plastic trash or become ensnared in it.
Materials for the alligator:
6 Boat bumpers
1 trash can
1 plastic basket
1 irrigation pipe
1 industrial motor belt
21 tops of oil quarts
2 off road bicycle tires
2 Tonka Toy tires
Made with various plastics and toys found on the beach.
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