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Giant sea turtle to create waves at British Science Festival

Visitors to the British Science Festival will come face to face with a giant mound of plastic waste aimed to show the damage being caused to marine life by humans.

A giant sea turtle made with plastic collected from the local area has been unveiled at the University of Hull to coincide with the start of the British Science Festival.

The eye-catching installation stands 3.5 metres tall and 4.5 metres wide and has been specially commissioned by the University with the aim of asking visitors to the four-day event to take a moment to think how they could reduce their own plastic waste.

Sea Turtle


Professor Dan Parsons, Director of the University’s Energy and Environment Institute, said: “Marine pollution is a mounting global challenge, which is already having devastating consequences. We have a duty to protect these fragile environments and the marine life and ecosystems which call them home. The University has commissioned this installation as a physical reminder of what is ending up in the oceans, but also to ask visitors to campus to stop and think what they could do to try to reduce their own waste.

“Programmes like Blue Planet II and Sky’s Ocean Plastics initiative have woken the world up to the issues surrounding plastics. However, there is still a lack of awareness about what else is happening beneath the surface of the water. For example, rising acidity from carbon dioxide absorption is disrupting marine life in a host of ways – the way they communicate, mate, feed and even their ability to spot predators. Through our research and teaching, at the University of Hull we are rising to the challenge of helping to tackle these issues, as well as raising greater awareness among the public.”

"Through our research and teaching, we are rising to the challenge of helping to tackle these issues, as well as raising greater awareness among the public." Professor Dan Parsons, Director of the University’s Energy and Environment Institute

World-leading research into these crucial issues and others is being carried out at the University of Hull. Our researchers will be sharing their work and insights as part of the fascinating line-up at this year’s British Science Festival.

These include the Huxley Debate which will examine the challenges and next steps for mankind to tackle the plastics problem and how we can change our behaviours. Chaired by Lord David Willetts, the panel debate will feature Professor Parsons, who was selected earlier this year by the Natural Environment Research Council, (NERC) to chair a scoping group for research into tacking the mounting global issue of plastic pollution in the environment. Joining him on the panel is Andy Clarke, former Chief Executive of Asda and Katy Duke, Chief Executive of the Deep.

Plastic for the turtle was collected from this year’s Humber Street Sesh where the University of Hull opened a plastic currency exchange where festival-goers exchanged their throw-away plastic for either a re-useable cup or biodegradable face glitter.

The University also asked visitors to the Freedom Festival last weekend to swap out their plastic for a reusable cup or for a fairground ride.

In total, around 15,000 pieces of plastic was collected for the installation.

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Professor Parsons said: “Without action, we will be depriving future generations of the beauty of the oceans, as well as facing the reality that some species will not survive this damage. It really is time to act now, and at the University of Hull, we are taking a stand.”

An estimated 12 million tonnes of plastic waste enters our oceans each year.

Earlier this year, to coincide with World Oceans’ day, the University launched a Plastics Pledge, in which more than 7,500 have already signed up by pledging to make easy and manageable changes to daily life which will help cut the amount of plastic pollution.

#MyPlasticsPledge includes tips on recycling as well as simple changes which could make a huge difference.

The University has also launched an institution-wide initiative focused on reviewing plastic consumption and waste, forming a dedicated group charged with looking at ways to reduce and eliminate single-use plastics across the entire university campus.

The British Science Festival which is being hosted by the University of Hull, will see more than 100 events specially curated by the British Science Association.

World-leading academics from University of Hull, other institutions and organisations across the UK will present, discuss and debate cutting-edge science, across the scientific spectrum including technology, engineering and social sciences, at a range of different events, from talks to performances.

The four-day event is one of Europe’s longest-established science festivals, which each year travels to a new part of the UK, bringing a vast array of events, performances and exhibitions with a scientific twist.

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