More than likely, you have seen the recent campaign that was circulating, the one that shows graphic images of marine animals choking with plastic bags wrapped around their heads. Those images are known to be fake but now, another question has been raised by British scientists.
A Marine wildlife NGO, Sea Shepherd started the campaign with images of a seal and turtle suffocating in the campaign that was designed to raise awareness of plastic pollution in the ocean.
Social media got involved and questions were raised about the true effect the campaign is having. Rather than making people realize how dangerous plastic could be, it is thought that those images may actually desensitize the public.
New anti single use #plastic SHOCK campaign by @seashepherd Interested to know whether people agree with the poetic license used.— Prof Brendan Godley (@BrendanGodley) March 20, 2019
Via the @TheSun https://t.co/F2to0RXYxg
@sascampaigns @bigbluecleanup @HeatherKoldewey @JambeckResearch @ProfRThompson @VisualPersist @kimfriedmans pic.twitter.com/oU05AJL1RD
But then again the amount of pain it inflicts, even if not intentional… Not sure where I stand on this but still skeptical about longterm desensitizing of continuous use of shocking imagery— Timur Jack-Kadıoğlu (@TimurJK) March 20, 2019
Brandon Godley, Prof. of conservation science at the University of Exter had the following to say in a tweet: ‘Interested to know whether people agree with the poetic license used.’
Timur Jack-Kadıoğlu, PhD student and researcher at the same university, replied: ‘Will people become desensitized to plastic waste imagery as sometimes happens with humanitarian aid shock campaigns?
‘Entanglement is happening, but is it justifiable to anthropomorphise with imagery of human torture when arguably it’s not intentionally inflicted on marine life with the purpose of causing pain..’
He added that he was ‘skeptical about longterm desensitizing of continuous use of shocking imagery.’
The 3D ads were used widely on social media and on posters. They typically went along with the caption, ‘The plastic you use once tortures the oceans forever’.
The purpose of the campaign was to remind people of the disturbing issues associated with plastic being in the oceans. Creatures all over the world are dying because of man-made pollution.
The images were designed and modified with Photoshop. They were supposed to invoke a response but the organization said that ships often find animals that have died in this manner.
It is becoming more common for wrong displays like this to show dead birds with refugees bursting out of their stomach, turtles with their necks stuck in six-pack rings and fish dying in fishing nets that were abandoned.
The number of species of marine animals said to have consumed or become entangled in plastic is sitting at around 700. Even still, we use plastic and rarely ever give it a second thought when we discard it.
‘Unfortunately, a small and thoughtless action in our daily life can cause huge damage to nature without us even realising it, said Guiga Giacomo, from Tribal Worldwide São Paulo, who partnered with Sea Shepherd on the campaign.
‘We aim to remedy this by reaching the largest number of people possible, bringing awareness to the fact that with small and easy steps, we can ensure that terrible scenes like these do not happen,’ he said.
The content they share online offers tips to help reduce our share of plastics. Sea Shepherd also cleans up beaches worldwide. In the United States, the campaign is ‘Operation Clean Waves’
Along with collecting marine debris, they study how microplastics affect marine species.
Last week, they found a vaquita porpoise that had been killed. It was found in illegal gill nets off the Mexico coast. There are only about 10 of those porpoises left in the world.
Gillnets target the totaba fish, which, along with the vaquita, are both critically endangered. Those nets are considered to be a ‘perfect death trap’
By 2015, many scientists feel that more plastic will be in the ocean than fish. Sea Shepherd founder Captain Paul Watson went on to say: ‘Sea Shepherd is committed to preventing this from happening – because if the oceans die, we die.’
The artic has long been known for its pristine waters. More and more, however, it is being seen as a floating rubbish dump. In fact, one of the hardest hit areas is north of Russia and Norway.
The amount of plastic waste in the Barents Sea is on the rise and had gone up 20-fold in the past decade.
The detritus, which was full of fishing nets and plastic bags was discovered 8,000ft below the surface of those waters. Two polar research stations between Greenland and the Svalbard archipelago logged the litter. It was between Norway and the North Pole.
Researchers from Germany’s Alfred Wegener Research Institute logged the data and published it in the journal Deep-Sea Research I.
In 2004, the area had 346 pieces of litter per square KM. The same area in 2014 contained 6,333. It is feared that the area is now one of the largest floating dumps in the world.
It is also thought that about 80% of the plastic rubbish found on the Arctic island of Svalbard comes from fishing.