There are two things that the North Carolina Aquarium at Fort Fisher does well. The first is educate people about the various kinds of animals- land, sea and air- that inhabit North Carolina’s coastal region. The second thing they do well is educate people about the effects of pollution, especially trash and chemicals, on the wildlife.
Meet Plastic Maverick. This sculpture, by teen volunteer Adilene Trujillo Garcia, is made entirely out of trash found on the local beach during beach sweeps and cleanups. The feathers are made of discarded plastic water bottles and cigarette butts. Plastic Maverick is also entangled in plastic twine and is surrounded by trash.
There’s been a lot of news lately about plastic found in the stomachs of whales and about animals who have become entangled in discarded trash. The stories and videos are quite heartbreaking but usually end well, with a passing human saving the animal. Here’s the deal, though. For each of these videos or stories that end well, there are many more where the animal isn’t so lucky.
We can help by NOT discarding of our trash on the beach, the river or the woods, but holding onto it until we have access to trash can. Also, you can opt for paper bags rather than plastic or, even better, you can use a reusable cloth bag.
When I was a child, the Bald Eagle was virtually extinct. Conservation efforts have brought this magnificent bird back from the brink and we now have the opportunity to see the bird outside of zoos. I’ve seen several in North Carolina and Virginia over the last few years and it’s always a thrill. I would urge you to help in the conservation and protection of all wildlife by not polluting their environment.
Now, for those interested, here’s the real Maverick. He was found injured alongside a Wisconsin road in 2013. Despite medical attention and rehabilitation, Maverick’s wing was too badly damaged and he would never fly again. He found a permanent home at the aquarium and is a great ambassador for wildlife conservation. He’s about six years old.
Quite handsome, isn’t he?