CHICAGO (CBS) — The Shedd Aquarium is opening Saturday a new exhibit featuring artwork intended to be thought provoking.

Washed Ashore: Art to Save the Sea features large, colorful sculptures of aquatic animals, created entirely from plastic beach trash.

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Stella the Seahorse – Stella represents 1,600 pounds of plastic removed from a beach. But people dump 8.8 million tons of the stuff into the ocean each year. (WBBM/Mike Krauser)

“Seeing beloved aquatic species made completely out of plastics and debris, such as flip-flops, straws, packing straps, beverage bottles, toothbrushes and millions more pieces of plastic in every color of the rainbow, the sculptures offer guests the powerful message that the ocean’s deadliest predator is trash,” the Shedd Aquarium said in a statement.

Unlike any sculpture viewers have probably ever seen, they “have undoubtedly seen most of the things in the sculptures…more than 5 tons of it just in this exhibition—that washed up and were collected on U.S. beaches.”

The art installation features colorful sculptures featuring an 11-foot seahorse, a 13-foot-long eel, a 150-pound anemone and seven other gigantic aquatic animals, all made of trash.

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Houston Sea Jelly, 200 pounds – Americans down more than 1,500 bottled waters every second. Refillable water bottles save resources, money―and wildlife. (WBBM/Mike Krauer)

“Scientists predict that if we don’t take action right now, the amount of plastic in our oceans will exceed the amount of fish in our oceans, pound-for-pound, by the year 2050. That’s pretty remarkable,” said the Shedd Aquarium’s Senior Vice President of Global Field Experiences, Cheryl Mell.

The Washed Ashore Project started in 2010 after artist Angela Haseltine Pozzi witnessed mounds of plastic trash piling up on beaches along the Oregon coast, according to the exhibit’s website. From there she organized cleanups and used the collected trash to create sculptures of the sea animals most affected by the pollution.

“I hope that they’re impactful to people. I hope that people stop and look and realizes that this is all garbage off the beaches. Yes, they’re made to be a little beautiful, but also horrifying,” Haseltine Pozzi said.

Since the project began, 10,000 volunteers have removed more than 38,000 pounds of plastic trash from over 300 miles of beaches, the Shedd said. Ninety-five percent of the debris collected has been used in more than 60 sculptures so far.

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Cleo the Clownfish & Annie Anemone (Credit: Shedd Aquarium)

Washed Ashore: Art to Save the Sea is a traveling exhibit. It opens at the Shedd Aquarium on Saturday, Sept. 23 with 10 sculptures. Six other art installations will be added in November.

The exhibit runs through September 2018. Washed Ashore: Art to Save the Sea is included with a general admission ticket. Sculptures are located throughout the aquarium.

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Sea Otter (WBBM/Mike Krauser)

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