In Beaufort, local groups celebrate World Ocean's Day, promote prevention of ocean litter

achristnovich@islandpacket.comJune 16, 2012 

After holding a small diamondback terrapin and peering at various displays of shellfish in glass tanks, Coleman Victor, 6, had one thing to say: polluting the oceans is "bad, bad and triple bad."

Coleman's sentiments were echoed with equal heartiness by local environmental and wildlife protection groups as they promoted World Ocean's Day on Saturday at the Beaufort Town Center on Boundary Street. The event was sponsored by ARTworks and the S.C. Sea Consortium.

Families visited outdoor booths lined with sea creatures and educational exhibits from area organizations including the consortium, the Lowcountry Estuarium and the Port Royal Sound Foundation. The booths were designed to teach the importance of maintaining clean beaches and oceans.

While the United Nations officially recognizes June 8 as World Ocean's Day, the local event served as the centerpiece of more than half-a-dozen activities held throughout Beaufort County in June to educate the public on ocean debris-related problems. This was the first year the area groups have planned World Ocean Day celebrations, said Amber Von Harten of the S.C. Sea Consortium.

One of the main attractions was a sculpture of a whale that appeared to be leaping out of an industrial-sized trash bin painted to look like water.

The minivan-sized whale was created by artist Terry Brennan by using debris collected on the Hunting Island and from Bluffton waterways and beaches. Its lower jaw and belly were made from an abandoned boat and old nets made up most of its back. A giant red eye was made from an old shoe and plastic coffee lid.

Brennan said he typically makes smaller sculptures from discarded materials and that the whale is an appropriate symbol for the enormity of ocean debris-related issues.

"Scale is important when you're trying to get someone's attention," he said. "It parallels with impact."

Brennan said he hopes the whale can be displayed on Hunting Island or in Beaufort during the Water Festival July 13-22.

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World Ocean's Day celebration continues, June 13, 2012

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