Alaska is America’s wildest, most remote state. But it is not immune to manmade environmental damage (just ask the residents of Valdez). On some of Alaska’s most isolated beaches, you’ll find plenty of garbage — tons, in fact, as a group of scientists and artists discovered last summer, when they embarked on a 450-mile expedition to collect and document marine trash.The project was named Expedition Gyre, since most of the marine debris in Alaska emanates from the North Pacific Gyre. Launched by the Alaska SeaLife Center and the Anchorage Museum, Expedition Gyre brings together the visual arts and marine biology in an ambitious effort to raise awareness about oceanic plastic pollution. Throughout the one-week expedition, the scientists categorized their findings, while the artists collected pieces of trash that will be used to create work for an exhibit curated by the Anchorage Museum.
The exhibit, which will run at the Anchorage Museum from February 2014 to September 2014, will feature the work of more than 20 artists from around the world, not all of whom took part in the Gyre trip. After the Anchorage showing, the Gyre exhibit will travel to museums around the world, highlighting the global nature of marine pollution.
The Gyre team found thousands of fly swatters emblazoned with American sports team logos, plastic beer crates, and countless soda bottles. But the most common type of debris they found were materials that were lost from commercial fishing and shipping boats, like fishing nets, buoys, and rope--objects that are most likely to snare and injure wildlife.
"Mark is doing what artists should do; he’s getting our attention," says scientist Carl Safina.
Alaska possesses some of America's wildest places, but if you journey to some of the state's most remote beaches, you'll find trash--tons and tons of manmade trash washed up on the shore.
Those currents cover some beaches with as much as one ton of trash per mile, and although the debris comes in all shapes and sizes, almost all of it is plastic.
The trip was dubbed "Gyre," because much of the marine debris found in Alaska comes from a large, circulating ocean current known as the North Pacific Gyre.
Debris from the 2011 Japanese tsunami gets most of the headlines, but it's far from the only plastic washing up on the beaches of Alaska.
Throughout the one-week expedition, which started at Seward and continued south along the Kenai Peninsula, the scientists categorized and took notes about their findings, while the artists collected pieces of trash that will be used to create sculptures and assemblages that will be displayed in an art exhibit curated by the Anchorage Museum.
[via Fast Co. | Exist]