Erica Cirino is a science writer and artist covering stories about wildlife and the environment, specializing in biology, conservation and policy. Her photography and mixed media artworks explore the idea of the human connection to nature, especially to wild creatures.
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 her message 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
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 the plastic pollution fight, visiting some of the most polluted places on Earth and documenting what she experiences. She will use her field material to write stories and enrich her presentation “Exploring the Pacific Ocean and Beyond in Pursuit of Plastic,” which she’ll continue to deliver at high schools, colleges and public spaces. The premise of her speaking tour is inspired by the Jacques Cousteau quote, “We must go and see for ourselves,” an idea that mirrors Cirino’s journalistic ethic: rather than report from the office, she makes it a point to go and see plastic pollution, science and solutions in action. Cirino hopes her presentations inspire effective social and political action on plastic pollution for the benefit of ecological habitats worldwide.