Giant ‘Dead Whale’ Is Haunting Reminder of Massive Plastic Pollution Problem

Greenpeace Philippines recently created a real… whale of a public art piece (sorry, we couldn’t help ourselves), to address one of the world’s most serious problems: plastic pollution.

In an effort to motivate the public to consider the impact this plastic trash has on our planet and illustrate why we need to recycle, use alternative biodegradable containers (like hemp or glass) when possible, and participate in local clean-up projects, Greenpeace Philippines created a powerful visual and global message about plastic pollution with a giant “Dead Whale” installation. The 50-foot long whale replica, was created entirely from plastic waste, and was ‘beached’ near the shoreline in Manila Bay.

“Listen to the dead whale’s wake-up call, look closer and see what plastic pollution does to the ocean,” Greenpeace Philippines wrote on Facebook about the campaign. “We hope that this installation encourages the public to take action and #RefusePlastic.”

Biboy Royong, creative director of the “Dead Whale” project, said the art exhibit was inspired by a young 38’ long sperm whale that had died after ingesting plastic, fish net, hook, rope and steel wire: “we based its shape, color, texture, size and proportion on pictures of real beached whales,” … “We even chose to show a decomposing whale so we played more with the textures on its skin using plastic trash we have collected. We wanted to surprise the community in the area. For it to work, we had to carefully craft a realistic dead whale.”

There was an environmental projection that by 2050, if we don’t stop polluting our waters, there could be more ocean wastes than marine life,” Royong told Spot.

When many people first saw the whale, they thought it was real and quickly shared photos causing the story to go viral. In fact, Greenpeace did little to no advertising of the project, relying almost entirely on social media to spread the word. One person wrote on the Greenpeace Phillippines’ Facebook page that is was the: “Most disturbing thing that I have seen in my life!”

“That is so outrageous and horrible, that it almost looks fake,” wrote Keven on this post on the 5Gyres Facebook page.

Greenpeace also circulated an online petition, calling on “the ASEAN member states to take concrete measures against plastics pollution in the high seas.”

The dangers of plastic pollution and the effects on ocean life are very real and very terrible often resulting in a painful death for these beautiful creatures:

Photo credit: Vince Cinches, the Philippines Oceans Campaigner for Greenpeace Southeast Asia. He also has an excellent blog.