Steveston beachcomber turns trash into art in message about marine pollution

From beach trash to art

Five years ago, Steve La Rocca was walking along the Fraser River when he found a white horse figurine in the rocks. 

“I was really excited,” said Rocca. “Once you find something like this, you just can’t help but wonder what else is out there.”

That was the moment that launched Rocca's passion for beachcombing. Since then, he has discovered all kinds of weird “garbage and treasures.”

A few months ago he was disturbed to find a military flare, which he reported to the police.

Initially, Rocca just wanted to pick up “pretty stuff," but he soon realized many people were using the river as a dump, so he started cleaning up at the same time he was beachcombing. 

Rocca documents the unique relics he picks up and posts images of artwork he creates out of the river trash on social media to bring awareness to marine pollution.

On his Instagram page, you will find Rocca using bird bones to create a 2.25-inch-long skull or building up an Easter bunny with knobs and tubes.


A post shared by Fraser River Finds (@fraserriverfinds)

“(I hope people) can realize the amount of trash that's out there. The best way is to make it into a pretty recognizable shape” said Rocca. “When people see it, they may recognize it and say ‘oh wow, this is made out of stuff that shouldn’t be in the water. Maybe I can do that with the garbage too.’”



Often Rocca picks up all kinds of abandoned plastic items along the river. In an Instagram post, he showed some plastic bags he found whose stamps showed they were made in the 1960s.

“Holy! That plastic bag has been floating around since 1967?” a follower asked in shock. “The waste is 55 years old?”

“Those are the creepiest things yet, you just can’t kill plastic,” a netizen commented.

“Plastic isn't going anywhere,” said Rocca. “It could take twenty to five hundred years to decompose...we need to stop just leaving the plastic on the ground but take it with us.”

After seeing Rocca’s Instagram posts, several people have reached out, asking to join him in beachcombing.

Some followers offered to buy some of his artifacts, but he hopes to hold a small exhibition of his collection of relics one day.

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