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Suffolk students, volunteers create art from beach waste displayed at Norfolk Botanical Garden

Students from Suffolk Public Schools, and some volunteers, made a huge sea turtle and butterfly from balloons that washed up on beaches in Virginia.
Credit: Suffolk Public Schools
Suffolk Public Schools students and volunteers working on an art exhibit made of balloons washed up on remote Virginia beaches.

SUFFOLK, Va. — New art built by Suffolk Public School students and volunteers is now being shown at the Norfolk Botanical Garden.

The groups created two sculptures, a giant sea turtle and a butterfly stuffed with balloons that were found washed up on beaches in Virginia. This symbolizes how balloon releasing can be harmful to wildlife. 

Researcher Christina Trapani said, “People just don’t think they are littering when they release balloons. We know that most people releasing balloons would never throw trash on the ground, but it’s evident when you see mass balloon releases at weddings, memorials, sports games, graduations, and other events that many don’t consider it to be littering. Released balloons don't just go away, they return to earth and can be very damaging to wildlife, especially sea turtles, marine mammals and shorebirds, as well as livestock and other terrestrial animals.  Balloon-related litter was the #1 most frequently found type of debris on most of the beaches we surveyed!”

RELATED: Norfolk Botanical Garden presents 'Washed Ashore: Art to Save the Sea'

Additionally, the new national exhibit, 'Washed Ashore,' made by Artist Angela Hazeltine Pozzi is also on display. It features giant sculptures of marine life and was also made from beach waste.

Credit: City of Suffolk
Volunteers gather beach waste to make art pieces

Both exhibits were made to bring awareness to the damage litter can be on wildlife and our environment.

The artwork made by the students in Suffolk was done with balloons that were collected over a five-year period by Clean Virginia Waterways. It took that long to accumulate the 11,000 balloons and waste that was used.

For more information on the exhibits, please visit the Norfolk Botanical Garden website.

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