A recycled plastic whale is now the largest recycled plastic sculpture (supported), measuring 25.89 m (84 ft 11.6 in) long, 8.07 m (26 ft 5.8 in) wide and 4.2 m (13 ft 9.6 in) high

Ocean pollution and the amount of plastic in the sea is an ever-growing talking point, and Monterey Bay Aquarium in California (USA) has found an inspiring and creative way to further highlight the issue.

On Crissy Field, located in the Golden Gate National Recreation Area and within sight of the iconic bridge, visitors could find a massive whale made up of recycled materials - a structure that is now officially the world's largest recycled plastic sculpture (supported).   

The magnificent blue whale measuring 25.89 m (84 ft 11.6 in) long, 8.07 m (26 ft 5.8 in) wide and 4.2 m (13 ft 9.6 in) high was set up on the green area for three months, with the record being verified in November 2018.

The art installation has now been sold to Meow Wolf, a public benefit arts and entertainment group based in Santa Fe, New Mexico, which plans to exhibit it on the campus of Santa Fe Community College.

Recycled plastic whale at night

But when looking closely, they'll see it is entirely made up of plastic bottles, re-used toys, and even milk jugs – symbolising the dangers of plastic pollution to marine life. All of these were collected from the Monterey Bay area.

Recycled plastic whale measuring

"Every nine minutes 300,000 lb of plastic – the weight of a blue whale – makes its way into the ocean," said a spokesperson of the Monterey-based aquarium.

"To draw attention to this enormous problem, we built this life-sized installation to get the word out and educate people. It allows people to interact with the sculpture and experience the issue to scale."

Recycled plastic whale Golden Gate Bridge

It was important to local artists  Joel Dean Stockdill and Yustina Salnikova to make the sculpture as life-like as possible, so they made sure that the whale is scientifically accurate to the species.

Recycled plastic whale San Francisco

They even went as far as sorting the trash themselves before starting the structure.

Recycled plastic whale skeleton

After creating a buzz in the media, the Monterey Bay Aquarium hopes to get people thinking about using more sustainable resources long term and encourage them to avoid using plastic materials that could harm ocean life.

Recycled plastic whale San Francisco night

The recycled whale follows in the wake of other record attempts which have highlighted ocean pollution.

In January 2019, Von Wong (Canada) and Zero Waste Saigon (Vietnam) created the largest drinking straw sculpture (supported) in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam.

Using more than 160,000 straws, the sculpture depicted a parting sea made out of plastic which people can walk through to raise awareness of pollution caused by the single-use material.


The straws were collected over six months before being ashed, sorted and colour coded with up to 50 volunteers helping to create the sculpture which measures 3.3 m (10 ft 9 in) tall, 8 m (36 ft 2 in) long and 4.5 m (14 ft 9 in) wide.

Explaining his creation, Von Wong said: "[Straws] are used for just minutes but take centuries to disappear. Hundreds of millions of straws are used every single day around the world. We wanted to intercept just a fraction of them to show how these tiny little things add up into a very big problem."


Over in Cyprus, a 17-year-old created the largest drawing by an individual with a scene showing a turtle surrounded by plastic. 

Alex Dzaghigian's 323.90 m² (3,486 ft² 61 in²) drawing said the turtle in his image was eating a plastic bag because they often confuse them for jellyfish.

Largest drawing by an individual turtle

"It takes hundreds years for plastic to biodegrade depending on the type of plastic; very often marine life becomes entrapped in nets and plastic bags," he explained. 

"Quite often, marine life ingest these plastics and end up as food for human consumption."