Erica Cirino documents plastic trash on Nai Yang Beach in Phuket, Thailand. Photo by Steven Ferneding
Erica Cirino is a science writer and artist based in New York. As a writer she covers wildlife and the environment, and specializes in biology, conservation and policy. Her photography and mixed media artworks explore the idea of the human connection to nature, especially to wild creatures.
In 2016 Cirino sailed across the eastern Pacific Ocean from Los Angeles to Honolulu through the famous “Great Pacific Garbage Patch” 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 and Nautilus. In January she was interviewed on NPR station WCAI-Woods Hole, discussing the expedition and the latest news about ocean plastic. Seeking to spread her message even further, Cirino began giving presentations about plastic, ocean science and what she witnessed at sea to high school students.
As a Kalpana Launchpad Fellow, Cirino plans to embed with scientists 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 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 home, 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.