SARASOTA (FOX 13) - A traveling art exhibit at the Mote Marine Laboratory in Sarasota showcases some everyday household items as part of larger than life sculptures.
Plastic is the central theme of the exhibit, called Washed Ashore. Bottles, golf balls, shoes, and even toothbrushes now make up sculptures of dinosaurs, sharks, jellyfish, and coral reefs.
Unfortunately, this project isn’t just about recycling plastics. All of the materials used in the exhibit were found on the coastline in Oregon.
The creators hope people learn an important lesson about trash.
Simon Carpenter gave FOX 13 a tour of the exhibit. He pointed us to a gigantic shark sculpture made entirely of junk. He starts counting shoes, but that's not all he sees.
"One shoe, two shoes," he counts."There's a clamp. Here's part of a funnel."
There's also a toothbrush inside the shark's mouth and its teeth are made of PVC pipe and toilet seats. Golf balls make up part of the shark's face.
It's the creation of Angela Haseltine Pozzi of Washed Ashore.
"We are really about waking people up and showing them the plastic pollution problem in a real way," she explained.
Pozzi helped craft more than 60 sculptures made up of trash found along the Oregon coastline.
"We have to use it, but we need to stop and think about what we are doing because there is so much plastic in the ocean," she said.
Angela and her volunteers spend anywhere from hours to years crafting these exhibits. Many of them are interactive and she hopes people realize each of these objects is something someone once owned.
"My hope is that you stop and realize you are being surrounded by all this debris that was picked up," she said.
Scientists with Mote Marine Laboratory know all too well the dangers of debris in the water.
Gretchen Lovell with Mote's stranding program said 20 to 35 percent of the animals they help have some sort of interaction with human products.
"We tell these stories a lot about animals getting entangled in things or ingesting things. I think this is a really powerful way to tell that story and hopefully get people to start changing their habits," said Lovewell.
That will take time, but Angela hopes her creations are a start.
"I think when humans find out they are harming the ocean they don't want to. There is no one who wants to. We all love it," she said.
Washed Ashore opens to the public on December 9. It'll be on display at Mote Marine until June 2018.