Spreading Awareness about Returning Sea Otters to Oregon Through Marine Debris Art
The Elakha Alliance worked with Oregon’s talented marine debris artist, Elizabeth Roberts, to create this unique art piece to bring awareness about returning sea otters back to Oregon. This sea otter is life-sized, and made entirely out of marine debris that has washed up on Oregon beaches. The sea otter even comes with a special hidden armpit pocket, where it’s hiding a special keepsake. Scroll to the bottom of the page to find out which locations you’ll be able to view this one-of-a-kind creation in person.
The Elakha Alliance would like to thank the Coquille Indian Tribe for funding this sculpture and outreach through the Coquille Tribal Community Fund. The Coquille Indian Tribe established its Community Fund in order to share the proceeds of The Mill Casino and Hotel with organizations that benefit the residents of southwestern Oregon. The fund seeks to strengthen the community by improving opportunities and lives throughout the region.
Oregon coastal tribes have an ancient relationship with sea otters and restoring these cultural connections is foundational to the Elakha Alliance’s mission. For thousands of years, indigenous people shared Oregon’s shoreline with sea otters. Ancient stories tell of the near-mythical qualities of sea otters, often instructing the listener to consider them as kin in a time when the boundaries between the animal world and the human world were more fluid than today. Their lush fur provided extraordinary warmth and was a marker of prosperity and distinction for those who possessed such a fur. Western science now understands that sea otters were key to the biologically-rich kelp forests in the ocean and eelgrass beds in estuaries that provided abundant foods and materials used by Indigenous people.
Scroll down to view the travel schedule of the sculpture along the Oregon coast for an opportunity to see it in person. If you’d like to host the sculpture at your facility, please contact Kyle@ElakhaAlliance.org.
About the Artist: Elizabeth Roberts
Elizabeth Roberts has been on the frontlines of plastic pollution for the last decade. She has worked on marine debris removal projects and research expeditions in both the Gulf of Alaska and the Gulf of Maine. She is a passionate advocate for clean oceans and coastal stewardship, and uses her creativity to inspire curiosity and awareness about plastic pollution while highlighting how single use plastic, and our consumer choices, are impacting our ocean’s fragile ecosystems. Elizabeth has built sculptures for The Washed Ashore Project in Oregon, The Norrie Point Environmental Center in Staatsburg New York, and Bømlo Kunstlag in Norway. Her work can be found along Oregon’s South Coast, including the Port Orford Visitors Center, the Charleston Marine Life Center, and 7 Devils Brewing Company in Coos Bay. Follow her artwork journey on Instagram (@MarineDebris911) and Facebook.