Washed Ashore – recycled “art to save the sea” exhibit at Tucson Botanical Gardens

A new travelling exhibit showcasing large sculptures/”art to save the sea” made from marine debris and other plastics opened at the Tucson Botanical Gardens on Jan. 26. My husband and I attended the opening art talk by Brad Parks, the Conservation Education Director from Washed Ashore, an Oregon based group whose mission is:

“To build and exhibit aesthetically powerful art to educate a global audience about plastic pollution in the ocean and waterways and to spark positive changes in consumer habits.”

Mr. Parks said that 8 – 11 million tons of plastic waste end up in the ocean each year, which is equivalent to “a full garbage truck full of plastic dumping every minute” into the sea. He also said that by 2050 there will be more plastic than fish in the ocean. 80% of this plastic is from inland rivers, waterways & the coast, with 20% from ocean sources such as ships & fishing materials.

Below are some photos we took during our recent visit of this exhibit, which will be at TBG till June 30, 2024. They are also planning an Earth Day (April 20) event for families to learn about recycling plastic.

More info about this 14 year old Washed Ashore group at www.washedashore.org. They hope to inspire ocean conservation through behavior changes (such as using less plastic, making sure that plastic doesn’t get into streams and the ocean itself).

A giant jellyfish is in the pavilion as soon as you enter, and “Priscilla”, the parrot fish is in the area toward the back of TBG, along with puffins (“Sebastian James” pictured below), more jellyfish, a mako shark, and a humpback whale tail. Photos taken by yours truly.


giant jellyfish as you enter the TBG

Priscilla, parrot fish
Sebastian James, tufted puffin


Carolyn’s note: As someone from Hawaii who spends time picking up trash at Hawaiian beaches, this was an impressive collection and display of marine debris, creatively made into large art sculptures. It takes months to make these sculptures, some of which are travelling across America to educate & inform people to be more aware of plastic debris and what happens when it pollutes our oceans, washes ashore and kills wildlife. I’ve personally witnessed a conservation group rescue an Hawaiian sea turtle/honu which was caught up in fishing wire.

3 thoughts on “Washed Ashore – recycled “art to save the sea” exhibit at Tucson Botanical Gardens”

    • Thank you. It was indeed inspiring to see people make something beautiful out of all that horrible marine debris that washes up on the shores of our oceans. This was mostly stuff that Americans picked up along the coast of Oregon, but don’t forget about that huge garbage patch out in the northern Pacific Ocean. Some of it washes up on the south shores of Hawaii.


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