The endangered North Atlantic Right Whale comes to life as a six-meter “fillable” sculpture.
The SculptShore project is the brainchild of Eveline Hipson and Elizabeth Wile. This is a piece of art that will be used to help clean up Nova Scotia’s shorelines this summer and raise awareness about endangered species.
“(It’s) a giant 20-foot baby whale sculpture that we’ll be taking to different events and shoreline cleanups and filling it with ocean debris and stuff that may have caused the whale’s entanglement,” Wile said. to Global News, adding that the sculpture will be modeled after the calf of Snow Cone, a North Atlantic right whale that became entangled in a fishing rope last year.
“It has a message, you’re helping to create thought-provoking art, because these whales are endangered for a reason. We’re trying to bring information and awareness to issues that actually solve the problem,” said Wile, citing a program in the Maritimes trying to get anglers interested in ropeless gear.
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Hipson and Wile met through the Canadian Conservation Corps, which is a three-step program with the Canadian Wildlife Federation. The sculpture is part of the third stage of the program, during which participants carry out a community initiative. The duo teamed up with local artists Nicole and Bernd Krebes of BernArt Maze in Lunenberg County to create the sculpture, which Wile said was a “natural fit” because the artists already work with recycled and found materials.
“It was pretty cool, actually, that we were the ones building the whale. We like being involved in the project because we’re really environmentally conscious,” Nicole Krebes said.
“We try to get as much waste out of the landfill, which is recyclable, and it’s fun to make art out of it.”
The couple enlisted Hawaiian sculptor Jarrett Phillips to help with the project, with whom they have worked in the past. Phillips said it was an opportunity he just couldn’t pass up.
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“To get out there and, one, use my art to share with others, but to bring awareness to Atlantic right whales, and kind of join the two together and put my art to use in future projects,” Phillips said.
The artists began working on the project on Sunday and have been going full steam ahead ever since.
“We started early in the morning, worked 12-14 hours a day, every day, and in this time we’ve also sped up our sculpting process so we can do it a little faster and more efficiently.”
The goal is to have it completed within a week and ready for deployment by next month.
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The first North Atlantic right whale was spotted in Canadian waters last week as the population of around 336 migrates up the coast.
“We had a relatively good year last year in terms of births of new whales, and also no deaths in our area, so that’s very positive,” said Boris Worm, professor of marine biology at Dalhousie University. , adding that population numbers are still “extremely low” and they remain the most endangered species in the region, with less than 100 breeding females.
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“And so the species is in great danger, and all mortality must be avoided in order to save this species from extinction.”
The two main killers of the right whale population are entanglement in fishing gear and collisions with ships, Worm said, adding that new research shows that ships of all sizes can fatally injure whales.
“I think to save this species, we really need everyone on deck in our area,” Worm said.
“It doesn’t just include the fishing and shipping industry, it includes everyone. So shoreline cleanups, for example, are a big help. Any type of rope that can be cleaned is useful in this case. Anyone who sees a whale should report it, for example, to the Marine Animal Response Society, which tracks the whereabouts of these whales, so that we have all the information we need to keep this whale safe.
Those behind the SculptShore project also hope they can be part of the solution.
“We want people to come to our cleanups and feel like they’re empowered and making a difference,” Wile said.
“It’s something we need to address and start connecting people with this animal to make it a problem that we can all solve.”
Wile said the hope is to have the sculpture on the Halifax waterfront by June 1, which marks the start of Oceans Week in Halifax.
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