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Fish For Thought
Piper Underwood, Rimini Road

If you were involved in the Beach Clean-Up at Del Mar beach on May 30th, or even if you just peered over the wall to check the surf, you couldn’t have missed the mile-long school of fish winding its way down the beach “Christo style.” If you were not at the Beach Clean-Up on May 30th, or at the beach for any other reason, I must clarify that I’m not talking about Grunion. I’m talking about a marine-themed art installation—colorful concoctions of scrap wood, old toothbrushes, aluminum soda tabs, popped balloons and the like, created by Del Mar’s Elementary School children.

This simple recycling/art project by Del Mar’s Elementary School children has taken on a life of its own in their hearts and minds, while heightening ocean pollution awareness in the town. Del Mar residents Mara Bickett and Becky Deller spearheaded the project under the expertise of Rodney McCoubrey (aka Rodrigo). Rodrigo is a local artist who works with found and discarded objects to create his art.

More than 400 students worked with Rodrigo to create their own one-of-a-kind recycled wooden fish. The children embellished their plywood fish with recycled trash collected from the beach and home. The children lovingly refer to their creations as “Fish Sticks.”

While the children learned how to reuse everyday objects that most would see as “trash,” the lessons extend far beyond into the community with their installation. Interspersed with the recycled fish were signs outlining facts about ocean and beach pollution.

Partners in the project include the City of Del Mar and environmental group “Keep Del Mar Clean.” Local Chief Lifeguard Pat Vergne said, “Our community is using art to raise awareness about trash and the negative effect it has on the health of our marine life and our coastal community. We are thrilled to be supporting the Fish Sticks exhibition and the 5th annual Keep Del Mar Clean community beach cleanup as we kick off our city’s new recycling program.”

Additionally, filmmakers have been following the story to document this grass roots effort and are fundraising to complete an educational documentary. Del Mar hopes to highlight this pilot program as an example of what a community can do to reverse the negative impact trash makes on our beaches and ocean - a small community with a big message.


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