Marine debris makes a splash on the art scene

Local artist David Day lives by the sentiment one man’s trash is another man’s treasure.

He was recently employed by council to create a number of unique artworks to help raise awareness of the impact marine debris is having on the coastal environment.

Based at Shoal Point, Mr Day collects items he finds washed up on the beach, such as thongs, plastic bottles, netting and rope, and creates masterpieces from them.

“I’ve been collecting rubbish along the beach my whole life, but it’s only been in the last four years that I have started making it into artwork,” he said.

“I was collecting so much litter I thought I may as well do something useful with it, rather than letting it go into landfill.

“I’m extremely honoured that council approached me to be part of this project.

“One of the items that council purchased is a one-metre long turtle that I created mostly from thongs. I filled the inside with plastic, fishing line and rope to depict the types of things these animals ingest in the ocean.

“I hope the artwork helps raise awareness about this issue and encourages people to take greater responsibility for their rubbish for the long-term health of our marine life and habitat so that future generations get the chance to enjoy it.”

The artwork is being created as part of the Great Barrier Reef Clean-up, which is being delivered by the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority (GBRMPA) and funded by the Australian Government’s Reef Trust. It aims to raise awareness and reduce the amount of marine debris entering the Great Barrier Reef catchment.

GBRMPA Reef Guardian council project manager Sandra Garvin said the results of the 2015 Great Barrier Reef Clean-up last October are what motivated the project.

“In one weekend we collected more than 10 tonnes of marine debris from beaches and waterways in the Great Barrier Reef region,” she said.

“The Great Barrier Reef is big, beautiful and diverse – it is home to amazing plants, animals and habitats. Marine debris can smother coral, entangle or be ingested by wildlife and also negatively affect tourism.

“We regularly see marine debris, particularly plastics, on our beaches and riverbanks. It comes from our everyday activities, which means everyone has a role to play in reducing marine debris.

“We’ve decided to bring awareness to the issue and art is a great conversation starter.”

Council will showcase the recycled artworks at various events around the region, including Coastcare clean-ups, conventions and family events.

For more information and to view a video of David Day’s creations visit

Contact: Mackay Regional Council

Phone: 1300 MACKAY (1300 622 529)