Artists Transforms 300,000 Pounds Of Ocean Plastic Into Life-Size Whale Sculpture


By Anthony McLennan / Truth Theory

The world’s largest recycled plastic sculpture – an 82-foot long blue whale called Ethyl, now has a new home in the desert after she was relocated to the Santa Fe Community College in New Mexico.

Named after polyethylene plastic, Ethyl came to life in 2018 in Monterey Bay, California.

She was created by San Francisco artists Joel Dean Stockdill and Yustina Salnikova using 5,000 pounds of recycled plastic found in Monterey Bay.

Read more: Biodegradable Tableware Made From Wheat Bran Could Be One Solution To Plastic Pollution

Discarded toys, detergent bottles, old recycling bins, plastic milk bottles, and a whole lot of other plastic waste was cleaned, broken into small pieces, and then melted down and shaped into diamond-like tiles which were fitted to the recycled-steel framework of the massive whale.


Ethyl was initially installed on the Golden Gate National Recreation area. She was then sold to Meow Wolf – a public benefit arts and entertainment group from Santa Fe, New Mexico.

Her next destination was the Santa Fe Community College (SFCC) campus, where students, faculty staff and community members welcomed her with a corn ceremony.

The SFCC has made a commitment to the community to help achieve sustainability by offering classes in Aquaponics, Solar Installation, Biofuels and other similar practices.

“I think the community as a whole is saying, ‘we understand that we have been a part of this problem as well’,” said Shannon Riley of Building 180, an art production and consulting agency which helped create the installation.

“Ethyl, in a sad but also beautiful way, also represents that we admit it. And then the next step is, how we can we create that change.”

Size matters

Plastic pollution of the ocean is reaching massively scary proportions, which is why Ethyl’s size helps to highlight the problem.

“Ethyl’s dramatic size and name help bring awareness to our planet’s massive issue with plastic pollution,” read a post on the Meow Wolf YouTube page.

“The blue whale is the largest creature that has ever lived on Earth, weighing about 300,000 pounds. Sadly, this is equivalent to the approximate weight of plastic that ends up in the ocean every nine minutes.”

In case the massive whale wasn’t enough to drive home just how serious the plastic pollution problem is, here are some other shocking statistics, as per the Earthday website:


Read more: With No Visitors, Australian Scuba Companies Are Planting Coral On Great Barrier Reef

Image credit: Oliver Hamilton

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