Educational sculpture to be unveiled at Siesta Public Beach on April 17

Large aluminum sea turtle to double as recyclables receptacle to remind the public about the need to protect the environment

This is a Siesta Public Beach scene that Visit Sarasota County featured on its Twitter account last fall. Image courtesy Visit Sarasota County

Sarasota County has partnered with the Gulf Coast Community Foundation (GCCF) for a special event on April 17 “to bring awareness to the hazards of marine debris and the importance of protecting the world’s water supply,” the county and the Foundation have announced.

“A large aluminum sea turtle sculpture will be unveiled” at Siesta Beach Park’s main pavilion as part of these awareness efforts, a news release says. Designed by Asolo Repertory Theatre master designer Jeff Dean and created in the Repertory’s Koski Center, the sculpture will double as a receptacle for displaying recyclables, and it will highlight the benefits of reducing and recycling waste, the release adds.

“Water quality is crucial to our way of life here in Sarasota County, for our region, and for our entire state,” said Nicole Rissler, director of the county’s Parks, Recreation and Natural Resources Department, in the release. “The more we do to keep that conversation active and relevant, the more we’ll be able to pass these lessons on to future generations.”

Jon Thaxton, senior vice president for Community Investment at GCCF, points out in the release that the sculpture is a way of using art and education to protect the natural environment. A similar turtle sculpture recently was unveiled at Venice Beach, the release notes.

“These turtle sculptures are a form of public participation art that will make a statement to beachgoers about how their plastics and other recyclables could end up harming marine life if they’re not properly disposed of,” Thaxton added in the release.

The sculpture unveiling also will serve as one of Sarasota County’s Centennial Celebration events, and it will coincide with the Great American Cleanup, which is hosted by Keep Sarasota County Beautiful, the release points out.

Volunteers will be collecting waste and recyclables across the county, including on Siesta Beach, the release notes. Some of those volunteers will be asked to place a few of the found recyclables inside the sea turtle sculpture to commemorate the unveiling, the release says. The sculpture then will be sealed and serve as a work of art and a continuing reminder “of the community’s commitment to environmental sustainability,” the release adds.

The artwork was donated by Gulf Coast Community Foundation in collaboration with Sarasota County.