"Whale Fall" aims to shed light on whale fall ecosystems and the incredibly diverse yet vulnerable world found deep below the surface of the ocean. When a whale dies, its carcass slowly sinks, eventually settling on the ocean floor where it supports fragile life forms by providing ample food sources to organisms that never see the sun. The collaborative sculpture focuses on the circle of life as well as the intrusive nature of plastic at all oceanic depths.
In this hostile environment distinguished by food scarcity, whale carcasses are essential to the survival of deep-sea species. However, the bioaccumulation of plastics within whale bodies combined with the settling of plastic waste onto the ocean floor has led to a build-up of toxicity and a loss of habitat. In the Abyssopelagic Zones of the oceans, hydrothermal vents, coral species, and sponge species coexist - these are visually recreated in this sculpture using solely single-use plastics. The toxic nature of this man-made material is apparent in the manner in which it has overtaken the carcass and rendered the surrounding environment sterile and devoid of life.
Plastics are one of the most dangerous wastes generated by humans – by 2050 it is estimated that there will be more plastic than fish in the ocean. The effects are already apparent – micro-plastics contaminate our food sources while large marine mammals regularly wash up on shores with stomachs filled with plastic waste. The ripple effects of plastic waste have impacted every trophic level, with the resulting organism deaths not only destroying the diversity of marine life but also impacting carbon emissions as living species act as carbon sinks – indeed, whales are thought to hold as much carbon as a thousand trees. The pervasive and destructive nature of plastic begs the question: will our deep sea ecosystems one day resemble that represented here – a hostile sterile environment with only remnants of the giants that once roamed our planet and captured our imaginations?