Thursday, July 24, 2014

Washed Ashore and More....

Sparky and Eldo are lucky to have a super duper aquarium called Mote Marine in Sarasota that is just hard to beat! But, the Virginia Beach Aquarium Marine and Science Center is awesome! There are two buildings to visit with this aquarium, and the smaller section has a new zip line activity part to it. Both are accessible on the trolley line stopping points. The main aquarium was particularly awesome because it had a special exhibit of sculptures made from trash that has washed ashore, calling attention to the garbage in the oceans, and Sparky really was looking forward to seeing that....The exhibit was titled, appropriately enough, "Washed Ashore: Art to Save the Sea". In addition to some wonderful hands on exhibits, there's an IMAX theater there, with other cool things to see....There is a kaleidoscope hallway that you walk through to get to the IMAX theater and it's full of eye popping color and effects, reflecting what you are wearing along with colorful signs of the aquarium's exhibits!

Admission pricing was 8.50 for seniors for the IMAX movie experience, and 22.00 for general admission to get in. Kinda pricey, but, Sparky had never seen an IMAX 3D movie so we did both! The IMAX movie was COOL! A 3D movie called "Under the Sea". Sparky had trouble with getting the 3D glasses to sit right on her face, working with her bifocals, but there were parts that had her practically jumping out of her seat to get away from some sea eels!

There's a harbor seal tank outside the aquarium where you can see trainers working with seals, and for an extra charge, you can stand in the tank with the trainers and have the seals come to you. Sparky hates unnatural environments like that, but understands the need for the aquarium to make money to support all their expenses.

Sparky liked the "Under the Dome" section of the aquarium. Not the TV show which Sparky wants to check out anyway some day, but a plastic bubble in the komodo dragon exhibit. Take your kid with you to observe from the protection of the domed enclosure while the dragon walks around you, and scares your kid half to death!

Kelly enjoyed the rays touch tank...
And so did everyone else!

And now, for the "Washed Ashore" exhibits....This art project was started by artist Angela Haseltine Pozzi, who used to ignore the trash she encountered while enjoying the healing properties of the ocean--the smells, the soothing waves, the motion of the water, things we beach lovers hold dear to our hearts. One day her eyes opened to the trash around her, and she decided to use her artwork to bring attention to a very serious problem, the oceans of trash surrounding and engulfing our marine life and environment. Each sculpture tells the dangers inherent to our ocean inhabitants, and what washed up trash was used to make each sculpture.

First, Lydia, the seal...made out of plastic lids, synthetic rope, foam and little plastic pieces--all things that seals have been known to get tangled up in or swallow that have washed ashore....Kind of ugly, but that's the point!

A turtle made of balloons...Hundreds of balloons were found on just one small Virginia beach. Balloons are most likely to end up in the water or on beaches because our planet is what, 72% water? To marine animals, balloons look like food--jellyfish, squid, or other prey. The balloons lodge in the stomach or intestinal tract and then the animals may starve. Dead whales have been found with balloons in their stomachs. The strings attached to the balloons can hurt animals, too. The birds might use the strings for nesting material and the strings can get wrapped around the young babies and cause death.

This is the flip flop fish.....Cool looking as a sculpture, but highly dangerous to marine life.....
Made from discarded flip flop shoe parts, which are sold to fishermen around the world and used for buoys,  the pieces break off and end up littering the ocean. Invasive species can "ride" the ocean currents on these pieces, birds take bites to sample. Flip flops are made from polyurethane and cannot be recycled.

Related to the flip flop fish is the "fish bite fish". This sculpture is made all out of plastic pieces that marine animals have taken a chomp out of. Plastic pieces are often made of toxic materials. Mistaking the plastic for food, the debris can cause death by blocking breathing or intestinal systems.
Sparky learned about gyres, which are slowly moving water columns from the ocean currents and trade winds, which in turn make the oceans like a big soup of plastic beads. There are five gyres and all together, trash from all the continents of the world is being circulated through the oceans from top to bottom.  Here's another viewpoint from YouTube:

Here's a sculpture of a whale skeleton.....Think about everything you know about how whales feed.....with their mouths open, right? Right through polluted waters.....70% of the pollution sinks towards the bottom of the ocean, where gray whales feed, for example. In this part of the exhibit, the sign said that a whale was found dead on the coast of Washington with surgical gloves, plastic bags, towels, a pair of sweatpants, a golf ball, fishing line and duct tape in its stomach....And this is not uncommon, to find dead whales and fish with debris in their stomachs......How sad.....

And finally, here is a collection of masks made out of brittle photo degraded plastic pieces found on beaches to symbolize putting a face to the problem of a deteriorating planet---humans--who are the ones causing this terrible destruction of our planets' animal habitats through irresponsible use of plastics.

Thank you to Virginia Beach aquarium and to artist Angela Haseltine Pozzi, for opening our eyes to the disaster that is occurring in our oceans..This exhibit had quite the impact on Sparky, as you can probably tell.....We can only hope to make some noise, take some action, change our plastic reliant lifestyles now and change our life's dependency on plastics for future generations....It doesn't look too good, does it?

Thanks for reading......


  1. This is an absolutely WONDERFUL post. I am so proud of my former hometown for sponsoring this artist and showing her work and to her for doing this. David and I have made a concerted effort to get rid of anything plastic that we can and replace it with something sustainable. We never use plastic plates, cups, or silverware as some RVers do for ease. We don't drink out of plastic bottles or buy water in plastic bottles. We have stainless steel that we refill. I could go on and on but this is your post and you did a great job. Many many thanks!!!!!

  2. You had too much fun there, thanks for taking us along with you, we enjoyed the day too.