While trying to wrap my head around a billion other projects, I felt urged to loosen up a bit and painted this on a 12 x 24 inch canvas. It’s a revisit to an old digital piece I did in 2009, but I’d always liked the composition and wanted to explore it using traditional media. There are so many gorgeous photos, paintings and illustrations of orcas breaching, but I always find myself thinking about the view from under the water. I love how water behaves around marine animals at the surface.


Repeat after me: 

Blackfish is not about making SeaWorld trainers look bad.

Blackfish is not about making SeaWorld trainers look bad.

Blackfish is not about making SeaWorld trainers look bad.

There’s no denying that the trainers love the whales. We get that they’re in it for the animals, not the money. We’re not disputing that. That’s not what the film is about. So let’s bring the debate back to the whales, not the trainers, please. It doesn’t matter if the trainers have good intentions, or care for the whales with all of their hearts, when the whales are still living in a substandard captive environment. 

The film is not challenging how much the trainers love the orcas. It is challenging the actual conditions the orcas are living in.

Odontocete anatomy

Just a little bit about echolocation:

Odontocetes are the only marine mammal that can echolocate. The whistle and click producing structures are located in the nasal sac system just inside the blowhole. The structures are known as the monkey lips/dorsal bursa (MLDB) complex, and it has been hypothesised that sounds are generated as air is forced between the phonic (monkey) lips setting the MLDB complex into vibration (Cranford et al. 1992). The sounds are then reflected by the cranium and focused into a ‘beam’ by the melon (a fatty structure located in the forehead serving as an acoustic lens). These high frequency echoes are then received through the hollow mandible then transferred across fatty channels to the middle and inner ears.