Plastic Ocean Project working to protect biodiversity of the Carolina coastline from plastic pollution

Plastic Ocean Project To Host 'for The Ocean Gala' Fundraiser

WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — From birds to fish, plastics floating in the water kill millions of animals annually.

Plastic Ocean Project (POP) is a nonprofit that tries to create awareness about plastics in our oceans and they’re hosting a fundraiser later this month at the N.C. Aquarium at Fort Fisher.

According to the organization’s website, the nonprofit’s mission is to educate through field research, implement progressive outreach initiatives, and incubate solutions to address the global plastic pollution problem, working with and for the next generation to create a more sustainable future.

“We work closely with universities as well the community on how to reduce waste in our environment as well as come up with solutions to diverting those plastics from those environments,” said POP Executive Director Bonnie Monteleone.

The organization is hosting a fundraiser called “For the Ocean Gala” from 6:30-9:30 p.m. on Jan. 29 at the NC Aquarium at Fort Fisher.

“This is an opportunity for us to bring people out to learn more about POP as well as a film project we’re working on called ‘If the Ocean Could Talk: A voice for the North Atlantic,'” Monteleone said.

During the gala, POP will show a trailer for the documentary called “Save the Whales 2.0.” They’re also hoping to solicit sponsors and supporters to contribute financially to the project.

Monteleone says many documentaries don’t address the issue of plastic pollution.

“So we decided to take that on ourselves, to create the film so we could educate people that the problem isn’t over in the Pacific but it’s also here in the Atlantic,” she said.

North Carolina has more than 322 miles of ocean shoreline and is one of the most biodiverse locations in the world.

“When we think about plastics having a negative impact on the marine environment and then the abundant biodiversity that we have here, it made perfect sense for us to start educating people,” she said. “We really should start taking care of the north Atlantic as well.”

Monteleone says there’s a growing body of research that supports the critical role whales play in the health of our oceans.

“Without the whales, we lose the phytoplankton that actually exchanges co2 into oxygen,” she said. “It really behooves us to start taking care of these whale populations because the more we lose those, the more we lose the biggest defense we have against climate change.”

If we fail to protect the habitat for whales and other sea life, Monteleone says it will create a domino effect of negative impacts.

“We’re the ones causing the problem,” and she added, “we’re the ones who can solve it.”

When attendees of the gala watch the ‘Save the Whales 2.0’ trailer, Monteleone says it will them a sense of hope.

“There are plenty of industries as well as nonprofit organizations and educators that are taking this issue head on, and so we’re going to be putting a big spotlight on the hope and what each and everyone of us can do to help save the whales,” she said.

The “For the Ocean Gala” takes place Saturday, Jan. 29, from 6:30-9:30 p.m. at the North Carolina Aquarium at Fort Fisher. Click here for ticket information.

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