CARLSBAD–Today Sea Life™ Aquarium hosted the public debut of “Beach Trash, A Whale of a Problem,” an inspirational project teaching kids they really can make a difference – one piece of trash at a time. Six first grade classes from Jefferson Elementary in Carlsbad have been collecting beach trash since October and have worked with environmental artist Teresa Espaniola to turn it into a life-sized gray whale mosaic – all while learning about the ocean and the role they can play in saving our seas.
“Little Gray,” as the whale is called by the students, is on display at Sea Life Aquarium until the middle of April when it migrates to a new home. The 26-foot-long mosaic is both beautiful and alarming – it is made of bottle tops, sun glasses, toys, shovels, a watch, a cell phone, and even a pair of dentures – all found on local beaches.
“Who ever knew that trash could be so beautiful,” asked Megan Malaska, Education Specialist for the Aquarium. “It has been absolutely amazing to be a part of this project and to see it all come together. This is a life-changing project for these children. I have no doubt they will be life-long stewards of the ocean.”
The whale is made of six panels of canvas, each 6-feet tall and 4 ½- feet wide. Each of the first grade classes was responsible for a panel, be it head, tail or body. The kids placed the trash just where they wanted it and parents glued it on. The plastic bottles that surround the whale are full of the student’s wishes for a clean ocean.
“During this project I learned that a lot of people working together can do great things; and even though our children are just first graders and just 6 years old, they can have a lot of power,” said Arlene Gnade, a first grade teacher at Jefferson Elementary and the mastermind behind the project.
Sea Life Aquarium also debuted a documentary about the creation of the Trash Whale. The 5-minute film follows the students as they learn about the effect trash can have on our beaches. The documentary will play several times daily in the Aquarium’s theater and can be viewed online at www.sealifeus.com/whats_new.