Greenpeace Philippines created a viral sensation one year ago that is still making the Internet rounds today. In May 2017, the environmental organization installed an enormous "Dead Whale" art piece on the shores of Naic, Cavite. This art piece is a 50-foot-long dead whale sourced of plastics retrieved from ocean waters. Intended to remind viewers of the very real problem of plastic pollution, the art installation more than accomplished its' goal. Overnight, the installation sparked a global conversation and a viral epidemic that is still going strong.
A Silent Exhibit
“Dead Whale” art piece by Greenpeace Philippines GreenpeacePhilippines made no effort to explain or warn of their plans for the exhibit, instead choosing to construct it silently on the beach and letting the piece speak for itself. After carefully studying the effects of decomposition on whales, The artists set about recreating the disturbing look. Internet users are still talking about images of the realistic piece today. One user named Keven famously commented on another Facebook page, "That is so outrageous and horrible, that it almost looks fake!" Greenpeace Philippines avoided traditional advertising for the grim ode to plastic pollution. Instead, they relied on social media sharing and the viral posts of shock and awe that zipped around the world in a matter of days. Picture viewers express their horror and disgust even today, still convinced the images are real. Greenpeace Philippines put out this thoughtful message on their Facebook after the piece gained exposure:
"Listen to the dead whale’s wake-up call, look closer and see what plastic pollution does to the ocean. We hope that this installation encourages the public to take action and #RefusePlastic.”
Inspired By Plastic PollutionA real whale, unfortunately, inspired The 'Dead Whale' exhibit. Art exhibit Director Biboy Royong referenced the sperm whale that washed up in December 2016 on Samal Island. The whale had died from ingesting plastic, fishnet, hooks, ropes and steel wire. After creation of the exhibit, similar occurrences happened in 2008 and as recently as February 2018. An emaciated sperm discovered on the shores of Spain had ingested 64 pounds of trash. Plastic bags, ropes, netting and a plastic drum clogged its intestines and caused eventual starvation. Although sperm whales typically dive deep to feed on larger marine life such as squid, they hover just under the surface between those dives. It's during those leisurely moments that the whales are susceptible to plastic and trash floating just under the surface. Ingesting too much plastic and debris makes for an awful way for these whales to slowly die. Either their stomach or intestines rupture or the plastic clogs their insides so much that they suffer infection and wither or simply starve to death. Whales are not the only victims of plastic pollution. More and more fish, turtles and other marine life are appearing with plastic and debris in their stomachs.
Saving the Whales From Plastic PollutionGreenpeace Philippines and other organizations are picking up the call to break our addiction to plastic. It's estimated that by 2050, the plastic in our oceans will outweigh the fish in our oceans! Countries are now pushing for legislation to reduce plastic bags and goods in favor of reusable or biodegradable options. California, in particular, has banned plastic bags from its grocery stores. The rest of America has yet to follow suit in a meaningful way, but taxes are being imposed in regions on a global level to combat the epidemic.
Photo by Kev Gregory
The 'Dead Whale' exhibit in many ways has become the poster image for this movement. Once viewers get past the shock that the piece is not a real whale, they are free to awe over its' construction. The 50-foot-long art piece is an incredibly realistic whale fashioned completely out of plastic pulled from the ocean. In the contents of trash bags, plastic bottles and debris spewing into the sand from its' mouth they can see objects they use and discard every day. Hopefully, the 'Dead Whale' is able to accomplish its mission of encouraging citizens to break the cycle of plastic dependence and make better choices for the environment.
If you're curious about ways to cut down your plastic usage, you've come to the right place. Check out several of our articles on reducing your carbon footprint and eliminating plastic goods from your daily use.