Spiral Notebook
Washed Ashore
by Harriet Low
March 20, 2017
Washed Ashore

Readers of Scientists in the Field title Tracking Trash by Loree Griffin Burns won’t be surprised to learn that we have a pollution problem in our oceans: the title follows Dr. Curt Ebbesmeyer as he, along with a dedicated network of beachcombers, tracks trash as it travels across our world in currents and tides.

Whether they’re rubber ducks or LEGO pieces, Dr. Ebbesmeyer studies cargo that is accidentally dumped or spilled into the sea, documenting its journey to learn about how trash–and everything else–moves around in vast expanses of ocean. This crucial scientific data, collected with Dr. Ebbesmeyer’s unique research and computer program, OSCURS, leads to discoveries that help other scientists to better understand and protect our marine habitats!

Good news, readers–Dr. Ebbesmeyer is far from the only person who is worried about the trash in our oceans. Washed Ashore is a nonprofit on a mission to clean up the ocean and our beaches, while raising awareness about the trash that ends up in the sea. Proving that you don’t have to be a marine biologist to make a difference for our world oceans and the animals who call them home, Washed Ashore uses art to educate the public and share their message.

According to their website, “Washed Ashore builds and exhibits aesthetically powerful art to educate a global audience about plastic pollution in oceans and waterways and spark positive changes in consumer habits.” This art is created with trash that is collected from beaches by volunteers, giving the garbage new life–and giving us a chance to see just how much trash makes its way onto our coastlines.

To see some of this stunning art in person, check out Washed Ashore’s exhibit locations and dates–there’s an ongoing exhibit of their work at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History in Washington, DC–and for more information on Dr. Ebbesmeyer’s research, be sure to pick up Tracking Trash.

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