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The Shedd Aquarium Combats Wildlife Threat with New Sea Exhibit

10/4/2017, noon | Updated on 10/4/2017, noon
Some scientists predicted that the amount of plastic in the ocean will outweigh the amount of fish pound-for-pound by 2050, ...
The Shedd Aquarium recently unveiled a new exhibit entitled “Washed Ashore: Art to Save the Sea,” which illustrates how plastic pollution has become one of the gravest threats facing ocean and freshwater animals. Photo Credit: Shedd Aquarium

The Shedd Aquarium Combats Wildlife Threat with New Sea Exhibit

By Christopher Shuttlesworth

The Shedd Aquarium recently unveiled 10 new giant sea life sculptures that were made entirely from plastic marine debris. The sculptures represent a traveling exhibit entitled, “Washed Ashore: Art to Save the Sea,” which illustrates how plastic pollution has become one of the gravest threats facing ocean and freshwater animals.

Jaclyn Wegner, director of conservation action at the Shedd Aquarium, said plastic is a threat to wildlife animals because plastic items can break down into smaller pieces of plastic that animals can accidently ingest. As a result, animals can choke from the plastic or the plastic can make the animals’ stomach feel full and eventually prevent them from eating without any nutrients.

Some scientists predicted that the amount of plastic in the ocean will outweigh the amount of fish pound-for-pound by 2050, according to a Shedd Aquarium press release.

The amount of plastic debris that enters Lake Michigan each year is currently equivalent to 100 Olympic-sized swimming pools full of plastic bottles.

The Shedd Aquarium recently launched, “Shedd the Straw” which is a campaign that encourages Chicago restaurants and consumers to refrain from using single-use straws, and 10,000 fewer straws were used on this past Earth day, according to a Shedd Aquarium press release.

“The Shedd Aquarium caring about the wildlife in our waters, locally and nationally, we really wanted to bring awareness about the plastic population problem and how animals are impacted by this issue,” Wegner said.

Wegner explained that the Shedd Aquarium partnered with The Recycling Partnership to inspire guests to develop a desire to join recycling programs that protect oceans, lakes and rivers.

“This is a completely unique and new type of exhibit for the Shedd Aquarium,” Wegner said. “So, often we’ve had really exciting animals to display and connect people with. But this is our first time displaying an exhibit that connects people to a conservation problem.”

The Shedd aquarium has eliminated single-use plastics, such as straws, utensils, individual condiment containers and shopping bags, from its restaurants and stores while also providing plastic recycling receptacles for guests and staff members, according to a Shedd Aquarium press release.

“We don’t want people to come to the Shedd Aquarium and get depressed, but we want them to experience the beautiful sculptures and learn from them,” Wegner said. “There are beautiful pieces of art and it’s a fun, playful yet eye opening moment for people to think about one of our

ways that we impact the ocean and the animals that live in it.”