A series of images have re-imagined iconic, ocean-based movies such as Jaws and Aquaman to give a realistic representation of the plastic pollution in our oceans – and the results are shocking and slightly disturbing.
The images come from Oceans Plastic Free, a sustainable toilet and kitchen roll company, which aims to highlight how action is needed sooner rather than later to tackle this growing problem.
Among the movie posters redesigned are ’70s thriller Jaws, which now depicts the infamous shark targeting a plastic bottle rather than an unsuspecting swimmer, complete with a six-pack ring caught in the animal’s teeth.
Other posters include Disney’s The Little Mermaid and Finding Nemo, Castaway and DC’s Aquaman.
The iconic 1975 thriller Jaws has shaped the way many people view sharks. In fact, after the release of the movie, there was a surge in trophy hunting of these perceived man-killers.
According to research carried out by biologist Dr. Julia Baum, there was a 79% decline in great white sharks between the mid-1980s and 2000. This reflects the fact that, in reality, we’re a much greater threat to sharks than sharks are to us. And it’s not just hunting and fishing that is putting these majestic ocean dwellers at risk. Plastic pollution is also playing a role. Scientists at the University of Exeter recently revealed they had found reports of 1,116 sharks caught up in plastic across the world. Since this only reflects the numbers reported, the true figure is likely to be much higher.
The Little Mermaid
Mermaids have been the inspiration for everything from books and paintings to operas over the centuries. And of course, in 1989, these mythical creatures made their way onto screens around the world with the release of the Disney classic The Little Mermaid, adapted from the Hans Christian Andersen fairytale of the same name.
At this point, little attention was being paid to the problem of plastic pollution. In the decades since, however, much more focus has been brought to bear on this important issue – and one artist who has harnessed the creative potential of these mythical sea creatures specifically to raise awareness of plastic in our oceans is Canadian photographer Benjamin Von Wong. As part of a campaign dubbed ‘mermaids hate plastic’, he took a series of photographs showcasing a mermaid surrounded by a sea of 10,000 brightly colored plastic bottles. The artist said he hoped his campaign would make the topic more comprehensible and interesting. The number 10,000 was chosen because this reflects the estimated average lifetime usage of plastic bottles by Americans.
A number of underwater waterfalls appear in this superhero movie. This is actually a real-world phenomenon that happens when cold, dense water sinks below warmer water. The largest of these waterfalls lies beneath the Denmark Strait, which separates Greenland and Iceland. Here, when cold water from the Nordic Seas comes into contact with warmer currents from the Irminger Sea, it plunges down a huge dip in the ocean floor, creating a downward flow that’s thought to measure more than 123 million cubic feet per second.
Sadly, even areas as remote as the Nordic Seas haven’t escaped the problem of plastic pollution. A study led by the Institute of Marine Research in Norway found that microplastics from European rivers are finding their way into these bodies of water. The plastics come from a variety of sources, such as car tires, cosmetics and clothing fibers.
In this computer-animated Disney adventure film, the title character’s father Marlin sets off on a desperate search to find his missing son. His quest sees him ride the East Australian Current, which is shown as a kind of underwater highway.
This current does actually exist and is used by fish. Located off Australia’s eastern coast, it’s roughly 100km wide and 500 meters deep, and it moves as much as 30 million cubic meters of water per second. In the movie, this fast-flowing current is crystal clear and litter-free – but the reality isn’t quite so idyllic. Plastic pollution is unfortunately a major problem off Australia’s coasts. According to figures from the WWF, as many as 85% of Australian seabirds are impacted by plastic pollution. The conservation charity also highlights that marine animal including turtles can choke on items such as plastic bags, while larger animals like whales are often found with plastic debris in their stomachs.
The main premise of this survival movie was devised by Hanks, who was interested in what would happen if a freight plane crashed into the Pacific. In a 2017 Actor Roundtable with The Hollywood Reporter, he said: ‘I was reading an article about FedEx, and I realized that 747s filled with packages fly across the Pacific three times a day. And I just thought, “What happens if that goes down?”’ When it comes to losing goods at sea, however, ocean freight is a much bigger culprit than air freight. According to the World Shipping Council, an average of 546 containers are lost overboard each year. This usually happens when the containers are shaken loose by heavy seas.