National Aquarium educator Jacque Wilton had a novel and colourful way of illustrating how many plastic bags the average adult New Zealander uses in a year - she wore them.
It came to 303 bags, and it proved to be an entertaining as well as highly educational way of getting the "look after the oceans" message across to the pupils of St Mary's School in Hastings last week.
Her appearance was part of a roadshow devised by the National Aquarium, which visited several schools across the Bay as a prelude to Seaweek that kicks off on March 2. The roadshow delighted the children, but got them thinking as Ms Wilton regaled them with a tale of the "plastic pirate".
Discarded plastic bags, and plastic in general, had become a scourge of the oceans, she told her young audience - who were astounded to be told that there was a huge area of sea up in the northern reaches of the Pacific which was full of plastic sludge - driven and circulated there by currents.
It was part of the "plastic pirate" tale she told, and she told a story of two children who went to the beach and took their lunch in a plastic bag. "What are they going to do with the bag once they've finished with it?" she pondered.
"These two children are very messy and I can see that they have just dropped the bag on the beach and gone home ... is that a good idea?" she asked the children.
No it was not, they agreed.
"The bag has been blown into the sea and become a plastic pirate."
She talked of how human pirates once sailed the oceans plundering and killing - how they would join together in huge fleets. "And here is our plastic bag - come to life as a pirate, ready to roam the oceans, killing as it goes."
All forms of sealife were in danger from the plastic menace, she said.
Caring for coastlines, and keeping them clean, will be part of the 14 activities and events planned as part of Seaweek by the National Aquarium. There will be beach clean-ups along Awatoto and Cape Kidnappers, as well as an underwater clean-up off Hardinge Rd on Sunday, March 10.
Poster, poetry and beach sculpture competitions will also be staged, along with rocky shore study expeditions and estuary walks.
Details of Seaweek activities can be found on www.nationalaquarium.co.nz.