This article originally appeared on The Creators Project.
When a whale was discovered lying on a beach in the Philippines with plastic spilling from its mouth, it may have looked like other whales that recently died under similar circumstances throughout the world. But this one wasn't dying because it wasn't actually a whale.
Created by Philippines-based public relations company Dentsu Jayme Syfu in collaboration with Greenpeace Philippines, Wasted Animals is an artistic stunt that highlights ocean pollution by transforming plastic refuse sourced from the local shoreline into a life-sized sculpture of a beached whale. "Our objective was to surprise people around the area, and at the same time, raise awareness on the dangers of throwing plastics into the ocean. The location was a beach in Naic, Cavite. It is part of Manila Bay, considered as one of the most polluted bodies of water in the country," Creative Director Biboy Royong tells Creators.
As a statement released by Dentsu Jayme Syfu explains, a large number of sperm whales were found washed up on shores in Europe last year with their stomachs full of plastic waste. Then, when a whale was seen on a beach in the Philippines, Royong says that the idea for the project was born. "We made a miniature whale that we presented to Greenpeace Philippines. It was our guide in deciding the type of plastic materials to use for each part of the whale."
In just five days, Dentsu Jayme Syfu and a team of local artists created the sculpture of a blue whale stretching 73 feet long. Starting with a bamboo structure, the group worked to exploit the aesthetic qualities of the plastics they salvaged to make the installation look as realistic as possible, including using plastic bags to simulate the slimy texture of a whale's decomposing body.
"For the whale's colors, we decided to use the actual color of the plastic. We did not use paint. We chose the plastics' use based on their color. The blue sacks; black, gray, and white trash bags; and black, white, and red strings and straws went to the skin. The twisted white sacks went to the underbelly. The PET bottles were for the 'baleen' teeth. The innards were red net sacks used for packing onions, filled with PET bottles. Basically, all the red plastics were used as the innards. The trash coming from the mouth consisted of assorted plastic wastes," explains Royong.
To make the sculpture appear believable, the group carefully studied the location best suited to install it. "We chose the best spot on the shore and measured the water level, then marked the part where the tail would be submerged in water on a high tide."
The Wasted Animals project has received such a strong reaction from the public on social media, as well as a petition calling for the Association of Southeast Asian Nations to take action against plastics pollution, that other countries have already asked Dentsu Jayme Syfu for instructions to make a "Dead Whale" of their own. "Seeing an actual artwork of a 'dead' whale may encourage people to explore it, touch it, see how the plastic wastes were carefully selected, placed, and fitted on a particular part of the sculpture. It may give people a certain sense of how it might feel like to actually witness a real dead whale killed by plastic wastes—killed by us," says Royong.
See more of the actions being taken by Greenpeace International on Instagram.