MYSTIC, Conn. (WPRI) — A new exhibit showcasing the sheer amount of plastic polluting the ocean is now on display at Mystic Aquarium.
Director of Education and Conservation MaryEllen Mataleska said finding out how much plastic is in the water was one of the main reason for the exhibit’s creation. It also explains the impacts those plastics have on the environment and marine life.
One of the exhibit items is a drone-like object hanging from the ceiling.
“That’s counting the number of microplastics, so plastics smaller than a grain of rice, and it’s great because once we know that information, we can try to figure out how we can try to stop plastics from coming into the ocean,” Mataleska said.
So far, it’s only been tested in Hawaii, but could come to Rhode Island waters someday in the future.
Westerly resident Heather Bring is featured on one of the exhibit walls. Her passion for helping the environment was fueled when she discovered she had Pseudotumor cerebri.
“Essentially your body thinks that you have a brain tumor.,” Bring said of her illness. “I had my first brain surgery and then I began volunteering with the response team, or animal rescue response team.”
When she’s not working for the Mystic Aquarium’s Animal Rescue Program, Bring, her service dog Marea and her son can be found cleaning up the beaches of Westerly.
“One of the tasks that my service dog is actually trained to do for me is to pick items up off of the floor, because of the issues with my brain, my stability,” Bring said. She explained that because of this, Marea helps her find and pick up debris off the beach.
“If only beachgoers were as responsible as Marea,” Mateleska said.
Bring said she likes to make bracelets from the marine debris she finds.
To limit the amount of plastic in the ocean, Bring suggests not using plastic straws, reusing items as much as possible and adding a special ball in your laundry designed to remove tiny plastics. She also suggested recycling plastic bags at designated locations in local grocery stores and tying the bags into a ball to prevent it from blowing away on its way to the landfill.