Ethyl the Whale


The Santa Fe art collective Meow Wolf, SFCC and the larger community welcomed Ethyl the Whale, named for polyethylene plastic, to campus on Monday, April 22, in honor of Earth Day. The artists Joel Dean Stockdill and Yustina Salnikova were commissioned by the Monterey Bay Aquarium to create Ethyl.

Meow Wolf recently purchased her and then had her moved from San Francisco to Santa Fe. Meow Wolf underwrote all of the costs for Ethyl’s relocation to SFCC, and the SFCC Foundation and Art on Campus Committee supported her installation.

The 82-foot life-sized sculpture of a blue whale is made of hand-recycled plastic trash to bring awareness to the ever-growing urgency of the negative impact plastics have on our environment. Ethyl is not just a work of art; she is a message: plastic is destroying our oceans. She is a presence, inspiring us to do better. To think more environmentally. To be more proactive. She represents a call to action to champion using alternatives to plastic that don’t destroy our planet. Ethyl will be at SFCC’s campus for the foreseeable future. We hope you will visit!

In the coming months, SFCC students, faculty and staff will explore Ethyl’s message through art, science, math, sustainability, energy efficiency, literature, and more. The art you see inside our facilities and installed outdoors across the campus is managed through the SFCC Foundation’s Art on Campus Committee. For information, please contact Linda Cassel, Art on Campus Director, at 505-428-1501 or

Ethyl in the news:

Meow Wolf & SFCC Raise Plastic Awareness with Giant Recycled Whale Sculpture

Meow Wolf | Monday, April 22, 2019

Whale art marks Earth Day in Santa Fe

Albuquerque Journal | Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Giant blue whale sculpture highlights problem of ocean pollution

Santa Fe New Mexican | Sunday, April 21, 2019

Want to know more about Ethyl?

Here are some interesting facts, courtesy of Meow Wolf, about this massive work of art and the plastic usage it represents:

  • The plastic used to create the whale represents one person’s plastic trash by age 20.
  • All of the soap used to clean the trash was recycled from found laundry and soap bottles.
  • The placing of the skin onto the whale took three weeks, fabrication of the metal took four weeks, and recycling the plastic paneling took fifteen weeks.
  • One plastic panel is 4 cookie trays of plastic and weighs about 4.5 – 5 lbs., which equals about 37 empty milk jugs or 21 empty laundry detergent containers.
  • Most plastic bottle caps and labels are not made from the same type of plastic and cannot be recycled together. They must be separated.
  • HDPE is the most commonly-recycled plastic, and is considered one of the safest forms of plastic.
  • The appliances used to make each panel were either handmade (shredders), donated (grey water), or found on Craigslist (oven, washing machine).
  • All of the plastic for this project was donated.
  • Over 4,000 lbs in plastic bails (plastic crushed into cubes) were used to create the diamond-shaped panels. The average human in the U.S. uses about 200 lbs of plastic per year. The diamond skin panelling makes up about 20 people’s plastic waste in one year.

Directions to Ethyl

Want to visit Ethyl? Here is the map to where to find the whale.