Disney artist and WSPA celebrate the Caribbean’s whales

Jun 12, 2009

Artist Wyland in front of the wall, with some of his enthusiastic helpers

Wyland, the Disney artist famous around the world for his giant whale murals, has teamed up with WSPA to create a wall with life-sized whale motifs.

The completed, colourful wall will support the Caribbean anti-whaling movement and celebrate the successful whale watching industry as a more humane and profitable alternative to whaling. Watch a video of the painting process below.

Recent studies reveal that whale watching activities generate up to US$23 million each year in the Eastern Caribbean islands alone.

Celebrating whales in the Caribbean

WSPA, in conjunction with Environmental Awareness Group (EAG), Antigua & Barbuda Independent Tourism Corporation (ABITPC), the Government of Antigua & Barbuda and PricewaterhouseCoopers, recently sponsored the creation of a life-size marine mural in Antigua Island, to celebrate the Caribbean’s whales and whale watching industry.

The internationally renowned artist Wyland, a California based marine mural artist known for his incredible underwater scenes and Disney collaborations, led the event.

The whale mural painting was strongly rooted in the Antiguan community; excited schoolchildren had the opportunity to paint side by side with Wyland.

Wyland, government representatives, WSPA and other animal welfare charities all attended the official inauguration of the wall which was a great success and hugely enjoyed by all who attended.

The prime minister of Antigua and Barbuda also showed his support, joining the organisers for dinner.

Mural artist Wyland said: “Conservation groups need to work together for the big picture. The Wyland Foundation is honoured to work with WSPA, celebrating marine life in Antigua with a mural that celebrates marine conservation through art and science and carries a message of hope.”

Whale watching – a better way to profit from whales?

Tourists on a whale-watching trip along the New Zealand coast

WSPA firmly believes that whale watching is more economically significant and sustainable for communities and people worldwide than whaling.

Research into the growth of the whale watching industry estimates it to be a US $1.25 billion industry enjoyed by over 10 million people in more than 90 countries each year.

Marcela Vargas, Program Manager for WSPA’s regional office for Mexico, Central America, and the Caribbean, said: “Our countries cannot ignore the benefits of taking care of whales anymore. Whale watching is growing exponentially, indicating a clear popular interest in enjoying the beauty of these wonderful animals in a peaceful way.”

For WSPA, this means more than a profitable business that benefits many communities in the region – it represents a future in which humans and whales can coexist without the unnecessary and inhumane killing demanded by the whaling industry.

The need to protect whales

WSPA is calling on the International Whaling Commission (IWC) to develop and promote mandatory international standards for whale watching industries, to ensure they are both sustainable and humane.

Right now, anyone can set up a business, with no knowledge of and occasionally, little concern for, marine mammal welfare.

We must protect these mammals if we are to continue enjoying this special natural resource. Responsible and ethical whale watching guidelines are vital for this booming industry.

Find out how to pick an ethical whale watching provider >>

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A fin whale underwater