They had a big whale of a time
67.3 x 132.7 x 62.2 inch (H*L*W) 882 lbs
171 x 337 x 158 cm (H*L*W) 400 kgs
Bronze and stainless steel
Contemporary Sculpture, Wildlife
It’s an unforgettable moment, to see the immense tail of a whale. For a fraction of a moment, this monumental ‘Y’ rises above the shimmering water before disappearing back into the depths. Beneath the sparkling surface of the great blue are all kinds of creatures. They hold the secrets of the history of our planet. But, growing larger than even the dinosaurs, the whales are perhaps the most important of them all.
Whales have captured our imaginations for centuries. But back in the day, we were doing most of the catching. In the late 18th century, whaling really found its stride. Huge numbers of whales were killed every year to fuel the Industrial Revolution. Whale oil was needed to lubricate all these new machines and factories, and also to light the homes of everyday people. Whales were also exploited for all kinds of goods, such as soap, perfume, clothing, and fish hooks as well as being a source of food.
With the Industrial Revolution came technological advancements. The 19th century brought exploding harpoons and steam-powered ships, allowing whalers to kill whales at an extraordinary rate. By the mid-20th century, most species of large whales were on the brink.
But hope was on the horizon. In 1982, the International Whaling Commission voted to ban commercial whaling. In 1986, this came into effect, and since then, many species and populations have rebounded. But not all.
There are still so many threats to whales today, even more so than before. The biggest culprits are climate change, bycatch/entanglement in fishing gear, plastic pollution, noise pollution, chemical pollution, and ship strikes. These threats affect different species differently as well as different populations. This makes whale conservation incredibly difficult.
Even with decades of protection, whales are very at risk. Currently, six out of the 13 great whale species are classified either as endangered or vulnerable. It’s estimated that 300,000 whales and dolphins are killed every single year because of bycatch. And that’s a conservative estimate. Despite conservation efforts, the North Atlantic right whale declined by 30% in the past 10 years. With only 366 left, this species is in serious trouble.
We all must become whale protectors. Whales are at the top of the food chain and are crucial for the health of the entire marine ecosystem. They are keystone species, important species that make a major difference to their environment. When whale populations plummeted, everyone suffered. Although counterintuitive, even their prey was negatively impacted. There became fewer krill and fish, despite their apex predator being gone. This goes against the Japanese government's argument that whaling is good for fish production. Protecting whales is also one of the best ways to mitigate climate change. Whales have an incredible part to play in capturing and storing carbon. Their huge biomass can store far more carbon than any other creature. And when they die, they sink, taking almost all that carbon down to the seabed, ultimately removing it from the carbon cycle.
Their poo is also the secret ingredient to creating the best carbon storage system in the world! Incredibly nutrient-rich, their poo works as a fertiliser in shallow waters. This is where the phytoplankton lives. Phytoplankton are the plants of the ocean and contribute over 50% of the oxygen in our atmosphere. They also capture around 37 billion tons of carbon dioxide each year. This is the equivalent of four Amazon rainforests. Whales are crucial for taking their nutrient-rich poop to nutrient-poor waters, transporting these precious nutrients to what would be desolate parts of the ocean and breaking up the layers of the ocean as they swim. Really, the oceans would be lost without whales.
For many people, as soon as the ban on commercial whaling came into action they believed everything was sorted. We had stopped hunting them so they’ll be fine now! This, sadly, is not the case. We must put the spotlight back on whale conservation and inspire the world to protect
Gillie and Marc love working in bronze for many reasons. Bronze is a very hardy material and will last forever. As experts in coloring bronze, Gillie and Marc enjoy experimenting with their sculptures, adding a splash of color to brighten the work, making it even more unique. > Read more
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