To immerse the observer in the beauty of the sea so that they leave with something to reflect on, and to relay to others… This is mission statement of the “Mar Limpio” (Clean Sea) Exhibition, hosted by the Nereide Association, which was launched at the Cárcel Real Gallery in Tarifa with all the usual safety measures.
The exhibition was inaugurated on August 21 and has attracted works of art from over 40 artists, including none other than Rafael Fernández Caballero, a world-renowned underwater photographer.
The Nereide Association said that the aim was to “use art to make our society aware of the importance of caring for the environment”, with the mission to get this message across to people of all ages.
The opening of the “Mar Limpio” exhibition coincided with the largest recorded influx of visitors to Tarifa this year. According to Nereide, the exhibition comprises “artistic pieces related to the wonderful marine biodiversity that exists on this planet, and the challenges that it faces, such as the omnipresent existence of plastics”. It also included educational material, created by the artists themselves, and “Photographs of our wild and fragile ecosystem, which is increasingly suffering from pollution and human activity.”
As had been announced on the Association’s social media profiles, the exhibition included a special reference to ‘Toño’ the sperm whale which was “found with drift nets tangled around its entire body in the Strait last year, and was not heard of again”. It just so happens that the President of the Nereide Association, Eva Carpinelli, was the one who found the whale and notified the authorities, which then sent expert divers to assist with disentangling the mammal.
Several of the items in the collection displayed at the exhibition can also be found all year round at different locations throughout Tarifa and have been presented by the “Worldrise Association” in Milan (Italy) as well as in an art and communication workshop in Barcelona organised by the World Marine Mammal Congress (WMMC).
After a successful launch in Tarifa, the Nereide Association is now setting its sights converting it into a ‘travelling’ exhibition, taking the art pieces to other cities in Spain. The organisers of the exhibition said: “we are open to proposals, be they from municipalities or entities that are committed to the environment and to saving our oceans”. If you’re interested in seeing this exhibition in your own city, send an email to email@example.com
Teaching Children About the Importance of Respecting Nature
Nereide are a fairly active group, mostly involved with organising activities that raise awareness on the importance of protecting the environment and instilling a passion for nature, especially in children who will become the adults that lead the future. This summer, despite the COVID-19 restrictions, Nereide succeeded in doing this.
As an example, on August 1, Nereide organised a fun and educational workshop to commemorate “Pachamama Day”, a yearly festival to celebrate mother earth that originates in Latin America. The workshop included a recital for children and their families of the story of Toño the sperm whale that became entangled in abandoned fishing nets and would go on to feature in the “Mar Limpio” exhibition.
The workshop, which was held at the Pachamama restaurant’s terrace, aimed “to educate children on the impact that plastic waste has on our marine ecosystems and the consequences that poor waste management has on the environment.” As Nereide pointed out, the location for this event had a special meaning: Pachamama was among the very first venues in the area to join the “No Plastic, More Fun” project (#TargetPlasticFree); an international project launched in 2019 in Tarifa by Nereide in association with Worlrise Onlus* to “create a European network of locals committed to the elimination of plastic waste … a serious problem which is threatening the very health of our planet at its inhabitants, including humans.”
Cleaner Beaches and Dolphin Monitoring in the Strait
Throughout July and August of 2020, the Nereide Association organised a number of “family” beach cleanings at Tarifa beaches such as in Los Lances; Playa Chica and Isla de las Palomas. “Armed with gloves, rubbish bags, and, most importantly, an abundance of energy, enthusiasm and positive intentions”, the volunteers (including children and adults alike, water sports enthusiasts and fishermen) came together to remove as much rubbish from the sands as they could, especially cigarette ends.
This was carried out with the aim of making the beaches cleaner, but most importantly, to draw attention to the negative impact that this type of so-called “human footprint” is having on the environment.
Nereide was created with the mission of “fostering a much closer relationship between people and nature, with a focus on respect and promoting sustainable practises to protect the environment”. The association is clear that “the way to achieve this is through focussed awareness campaigns that combine creativity and education.”
The association also organises a number of other projects, such as “Edunatura”, “Aleta a la Vista”, “el Ecomapa” and the Ferris Project, which monitors dolphin activity from ferries as they cross the Strait of Gibraltar to enrich our scientific knowledge on their movements in this part of the world.