A new campaign by NGO Sea Shepherd has given way to an intriguing debate online after they released disturbing images of marine animals suffocating with plastic bags around their heads.
Scientists and environmental activists have been trying for ages to get people to recognize the dangers single-use plastics pose to the environment. Despite their constant efforts, a large section of the public and large-scale companies continue to display a nonchalant attitude towards the matter. In this case, a certain marine wildlife NGO decided to drive the message home with an unfiltered dose of reality. The Sea Shepherd Conservation Society launched a new campaign featuring graphic fake images of marine animals choking to death with plastic bags wrapped around their necks. However, the disturbing images have now given way to an online debate.
Sea Shepherd published images of a seal and a turtle seemingly suffocating with carrier bags tightly wrapped around their heads, as a part of their new campaign to raise awareness about plastic pollution in oceans. Although the images are clearly computer generated, the disturbing nature of the pictures has led to the campaign receiving mixed reviews from social media users. While some are praising the NGO for their efforts, others suggest that it could be a bit too much. Many social media users have commented on the pictures saying that they are a massive wakeup call.
On the other hand, questions have also been raised as to whether the campaign could actually have the opposite effect on people. Some claim, by opting to use fake images in the place of real ones, the NGO may inadvertently de-sensitize the public on the issue. Professor of Conservation Science at the University of Exeter, Brendan Godley tweeted, "New anti-single use #plastic SHOCK campaign by @seashepherd Interested to know whether people agree with the poetic license used." Godley's tweet has given way to an intense discussion online with users giving their take on their matter.
A Ph.D. student and researcher at the same university, Timur Jack-Kadıoğlu replied, "Will people become desensitized to plastic waste imagery as sometimes happens with humanitarian aid shock campaigns? Does it make it more challenging to communicate more abstract (but arguably bigger) threats of CC & overfishing..." He added, "Entanglement is happening, but is it justifiable to anthropomorphize with imagery of human torture when arguably it's not intentionally inflicted on marine life with the purpose of causing pain..." He concluded although he wasn't sure of where he stands on this debate, he was still skeptical about it having the intentional effect.
"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," Jack-Kadıoğlu concluded. The images posted by Sea Shepherd on social media bear the caption, "The plastic you use once tortures the oceans forever." These shocking images serve as a much needed poignant reminder of how our careless use of the non-biodegradable material is causing countless innocent creatures to die in such horrifying ways. "A small change in our daily habits can help alleviate the suffering of marine animals," the NGO wrote alongside the images on Instagram.
Despite the debate on whether the campaign would lead to the desensitization of the issue, according to Daily Mail, a spokesperson for the organization claimed that they have indeed come across marine animals in such deplorable conditions in real life. Guiga Giacomo, from Tribal Worldwide São Paulo, was among those who worked on the campaign alongside Sea Shepherd. Speaking about the concerning issue, Giacomo said, "Unfortunately, a small and thoughtless action in our daily life can cause huge damage to nature without us even realizing it."
He added, "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." This isn't the first time images of marine creatures entangled in plastic debris has surfaced on the internet. Whereas this campaign features digital art, we've all seen real-life photographs of animals suffering due to plastic waste. In fact, it hasn't been that long since a dead whale washed up in the Philippines with 88 Pounds Of Plastic Waste In Its Stomach.
Dead #whale washed up in the Philippines died of "dehydration and starvation" after consuming 40 kilos (88 pounds) of plastic rice sacks, grocery bags, banana plantation bags and general plastic bags— Assaad Razzouk (@AssaadRazzouk) March 19, 2019
We must STOP treating oceans as dumpsters!#plasticpollution #oceans pic.twitter.com/GLgRD0lhwb
Apparently, to this day, about 700 species of marine animals have been reported to have either become entangled in plastic or consumed it by mistake. We've all made the mistake of carelessly discarding plastic items from our day to day lives, be it straws or food containers or even cloth bags. Scientists paint a stark picture for the future unless we take a conscious decision to be more mindful of our waste disposal. They warn that by the year 2050, there could be more plastic in oceans than marine life. However, Sea Shepherd is on a mission to stop this from happening. Founder and president Captain Paul Watson said, "Sea Shepherd is committed to preventing this from happening – because if the oceans die, we die."