Last year, a massive and mysterious oil spill spread crude oil along 1,300 miles of Brazil’s coastline, killing wildlife, damaging coral reefs and polluting beaches in more than 100 cities in eleven states.
But the official response has been anemic, even as locals pull hundreds of tons of sludge from the water—sometimes by hand—and local environmentalists say the government is ignoring the severity of the situation, especially after its lackluster response to devastating fires in the Amazon last summer.
To draw attention to the lingering crisis, environmental advocacy group 350.org and Innocean Brazil created adorably melancholy stuffed animals—sea creatures splotched with patches of dark oil. The color pattern of a pink seahorse is reminiscent of a cute Holstein until the reality becomes apparent. A sea turtle, whale and octopus complete the set. Each comes in a cylindrical package that looks like a leaking oil barrel.
After an initial sale on Instagram, the animals are now exclusively sold on the very beaches affected by the spill. All proceeds go to cleanup efforts and to help the communities whose health and livelihoods have been harmed. A spoof of a tacky infomercial also explains the circumstances and showcases the toys.
"While thousands of people in Brazilian coastal communities are hampered by an oil leak that lasts more than two months, government and companies come together to expand oil exploration and do not mobilize to clean the beaches and the sea,” said Nicole Oliveira, Director of 350.org Latin America, in a statement. “It is a joke to citizens and a clear demonstration that the fossil industry and the Brazilian government do not care about the disastrous impacts they cause. We can't afford an accident of this size to be a joke."