Marine Debris

My Marine Debris Story

The next kids picture book in my series of ocean stories written and illustrated by my alter ego Dr Suzie Starfish is about the impacts of Marine Debris. Marine Debris is defined as “any persistent solid material that is manufactured or processed and directly or indirectly, intentionally or unintentionally, disposed of or abandoned into the coastal and marine environment” (CSIRO). Marine Debris includes items such as plastic bottles, plastic bags, balloons, glass, cigarettes, metal, rubber, fishing line, ropes, hooks and materials lost on or near land or discarded at sea which end up in the ocean and along our coastlines. Our entire Blue Planet from the deepest oceans, to our coral reefs to the icy circles are impacted by human-made trash, much of which is plastic.

I spend a lot of my time by, on or under the ocean so I ‘sea’ first hand the impacts of marine debris and it makes me very CRANKY (…as you can see from the photo above I get quite passionate about the plight of our plastic oceans!). I want to draw attention to the increasing amount of litter in our seas as we now have oceans of trash. I also want to provide solutions that each one of us can do every day to help make our seas clean again because WE need to be the ‘sea of change‘. I already share these messages through my marine art-science  Schools visits and Workshops for kids, but I think its time to share my thoughts through words and pictures!

The Story behind the Story

Marine debris doesn’t just appear out of nowhere, it ends up on our beaches, in our waterways and oceans because WE put it there, whether intentionally or unintentionally. Did you know that each piece of plastic that has ever been created still exists today!! This makes me very CRANKY, particularly when I ‘sea’ all the trash on our beautiful beaches so I decided to write a story about it to illustrate the impacts of marine debris. As with all of my ocean stories the content is based on the latest marine science and will include findings from marine debris surveys carried out around the world.

This story will illustrate the types of marine debris, the impacts of marine debris on marine wildlife and how YOU can help stop our plastic oceans. The story is told through the eyes of a rather feisty and spiky character who is as CRANKY as I am about the trash in the ocean (…with a bit of attitude as you can see from the photo below). I have some great illustration ideas which I will share once the story is more progressed, but let’s just say they are going to POP! As always my stories include solutions to our environmental problems, with a BIG splash of ocean optimism, as I believe WE need to be the change we want to ‘sea’ in the world. So it’s up to YOU to #takeyourtrash and leave only footprints (you can ‘sea’ the progress of this story by following #takeyourtrash).

The theme for World Environment Day 2018 is to be part of the worldwide movement to clean up our Blue Planet and #beatplasticpollution! So if you can’t reuse it, refuse it!


Progressing the Story

I still need to find a ‘home’ for my story and now that my manuscript has been professionally edited and reviewed and I have sketched out some of my illustration ideas I am now looking for partners to publish with, as this story belongs somewhere special. I can also ‘sea’ there are many opportunities for this story to be shared with schools and groups through various creative education activities, including recycled artworks. Please Contact me if you are interested in this creative collaboration or could suggest Publishers (in Australia or Worldwide) who may wish to take a look at my Marine Debris story.

My Timeline – Creating the WORDS & PICTURES

This is where you can ‘sea’ the progress of my story, the inspiration (…or exasperation!) behind the storyline and the illustration ideas.

November 2016/2017 – My trips to one of the most beautiful, remote and I thought pristine places, Chilli Beach in Far North Queensland, was full of marine debris! These trips started to make me CRANKY!


February 2018 – Whenever I visit the beach I ALWAYS pick up as much trash as I can and it was sad to ‘sea’ the amount of marine debris along the beaches of my favourite Rainbow Beach in Queensland. Standing in paradise and plastic pollution made me very CRANKY!


March 2018 – Meet the main character of the story who is rather spikey and, like me, is a little bit CRANKY about the impacts of marine debris.

April 2018 – Visiting my favourite beach where you usually ‘sea’ the beauty in nature but its covered in plastic pollution! This makes me very CRANKY!

May-June 2018 – submitting manuscripts is a waiting game….so in the meantime I’m just getting some ocean inspiration at my favourite writing spot somewhere over the Rainbow. Sitting on top of the world… well on top of the Carlo Sand Blow, feeling inspired!

July 2018 – as of the 1st July in Queensland plastic bags have been banned from all businesses! This is a great initiative to help reduce single-use plastic bags ending up in our oceans. It’s time to bring your own bag!!

August – September 2018 – whilst I’m still looking for a publishing home for my marine debris story I have been getting some Vitamin Sea and illustration inspiration with my little spiky friend at the Sunshine Coast!

STAY TUNED here for more updates on my journey as an Author/Illustrator and storyboard and illustration ideas as I progress my Marine Debris story.

If you would like to know more about my ocean storytelling.

All artworks, stories and images are Copyright © 2018 Dr Sue Pillans