Erica Cirino

Erica Cirino is a writer, artist and wildlife rehabilitator who investigates the intersection of the human and nonhuman worlds. Her writings, photography and mixed media artworks explore the idea of the human connection to nature, especially to wild creatures. Her current focus is the issue of plastic pollution worldwide.

Cirino sailed twice across the Pacific Ocean–in 2016 from Los Angeles to Honolulu through the famous “Great Pacific Garbage Patch” and in 2017 from Honolulu to Nuku Hiva, Marquesas, through the Pacific equatorial countercurrent–with a Danish nonprofit called Plastic Change. On board a 54-foot steel sloop, she witnessed and documented–in writing, photography and film–the organization’s scientific work, ocean plastic, marine wildlife and life at sea. Her stories about the expedition appear in Scientific American, Undark Magazine, Nautilus, Oceans Deeply, the Revelator and VICE. She has given several radio interviews, including a segment on NPR station WCAI-Woods Hole, discussing the expedition and the latest news about ocean plastic. Seeking to spread the stories she’s encountered even further, in 2017 Cirino began giving presentations about plastic, ocean science and what she witnessed at sea to diverse audiences across the United States. She has given nearly 70 presentations to date.

As a Safina Center “Kalpana Chawla ‘Launchpad’ Fellow,” Cirino will continue traveling the world to visit with scientists and advocates at the front lines of plastic pollution, visiting some of the most trashed places on Earth and documenting what she experiences. Cirino will use her photojournalistic research and field material to write new stories, enrich her presentations and write a book about her journalistic experiences covering the story of plastic pollution in the natural environment.

Cirino’s work is inspired by the Jacques Cousteau quote, “We must go and see for ourselves”: rather than report from the office, she makes it a point to go and see plastic pollution, science and solutions in action.

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Notable works, coverage and accomplishments

(cover photo: Rawai, Phuket, Thailand. Documenting plastic pollution. ©Steven Ferneding; headshot: South Pacific Ocean. ©Rasmus Hytting)