NORMALLY, THE IDEA OF SITTING in a little plastic boat under the toothy maw of a great white shark presents ample ground for panic, but not at the latest exhibition at Mote Marine Laboratory and Aquarium, where massive sea-life sculptures—including Greta the Great White Shark—will be on display starting Dec. 9. Entitled Sea Debris: Awareness through Art, the show brings the large-scale works of the nonprofit artists of Washed Ashore to Sarasota for a display as whimsical and playful as it is informative and inspiring. Joining Greta will be Natasha the Turtle and several other sculptural leviathans—detailed, ferocious, fun and made entirely of plastic and related refuse recovered by Washed Ashore from a nearby beach in Oregon. Sorting the plastics by color, the artists cut, shape and compile what was formerly trash into monumental works of art that both do justice to their subjects and bring attention to a growing problem of plastic-polluted oceans—which is affecting this region too, says Mote Marine Public Relations Manager Shelby Isaacson. Mote Marine’s own senior aquarium biologist, Holly West, conducted an investigation in 2015, analyzing the stomach contents of 142 sea turtle hatchlings who did not survive the crucial few days after hatching, when they must escape the tide to the open ocean. After less than a week in the world, 72 percent of the baby turtles already had plastics in them. And that’s not even counting microplastics, which are classified as under 5mm long. A recent beach cleanup at Siesta Beach found more than 1,500 pieces of trash, mostly water bottle caps, straw wrappers and cigarette butts. “And that’s a pretty beautiful beach,” says Isaacson. Hopefully, with Sea Debris, Mote can start a conversation to turn the tide. “People can be a solution to the trash problem in our oceans,” Isaacson says. “And we always want to be a solution-based institution.” Not all doom and gloom, the sculptures remain stunning in their own right, fun and easily appreciated by all members of the family. And perfect for photos. “For the selfie gurus out there, this is a great exhibit,” says Isaacson.