Message in a Float Made of Marine Debris

The Eastern Long Island Chapter of the Surfrider Foundation is taking a float made almost entirely of garbage collected on beaches to the Montauk St. Patrick's Day parade. Mara Dias

Making its debut this year in the Montauk Friends of Erin St. Patrick's Day parade on Sunday is a float by the Eastern Long Island Chapter of the Surfrider Foundation constructed from marine debris collected during the group’s recent beach cleanups at Fort Pond Bay in Montauk and in Greenport and Hampton Bays.

Carolyn Munaco, a Hampton Bays artist and teacher who is also the Surfrider chapter’s volunteer coordinator, largely made the float herself. It features a figure of Neptune clad in plastic water bottles with shoulders built of tiny liquor bottles and discarded plastic cutlery. A three-foot-long duck made of shotgun shells emerges from half of an old mooring buoy. The shell of a sea turtle is outlined with hundreds of colorful plastic straws.

The message is unmistakable. “Plastic is a real issue,” Ms. Munaco said. “It doesn’t go away. We hope that this will get people to think about that.”

In its next life, Neptune, the duck, and the turtle may go to schools to help raise awareness about the marine environment. With threats to the world’s oceans increasing, there is a sense of urgency among coastal defenders. “It is a charged moment. There is a lot of energy there,” Ms. Munaco said.

Only a portion of the thousands of items collected by volunteers during the beach cleanups made it onto the float, Ms. Munaco said. “You have no idea how much stuff we got rid of.”