Humpback whales, artistic cartography, for the coast

Listening to humpback whales via the hydrophone changed the way I thought of the ocean.

It all started in the summer of 2018, when my wife and I received a call from our good friend Suze who lived on the west coast and is a dedicated advocate for the Raincoast Conservation Foundation. Suze was joining a September trip on board Achiever; Raincoast’s research vessel, with some fellow real estate agents and was wondering if we wanted to join the group.

September came quickly and we boarded our twin turboprop aircraft and took off for Bella Bella on the central west coast of British Columbia. Within a couple of days we were deep into the waterways of the Great Bear Rainforest. It wasn’t difficult to find inspiration within this absolutely magnificent coastal forest.

As a wildlife conservation artist, this was a dream come true. Between the grizzly bears and their newly born cubs, humpback whales, harbour seals, sea lions, Dall’s Porpoises and hundreds of bald eagles, it was difficult to decide in which direction I should point my lens.

A grizzly bear shakes itself on a stream waterfall.
Photo by Stuart Arnett.

Throughout our excursion we witnessed several pods of humpback whales using the “bubble net” feeding method to feast on the Herring. Watching these magnificent creatures work in unison to catch their meal was truly inspirational and became the idea behind my first Artistic Cartography piece for Raincoast. Listening to them, via the hydrophone that Captain Nick dropped over the side, still makes the hair on the back of neck stand on end and solidified the artistic idea that this hunting method had to be painted.

The concept of my Artistic Cartography pieces is to bring to the attention of the viewer the true importance of the subjects habitat and natural environment. Almost all of our endangered and threatened species are have lost habitat due to human encroachment and/or industrialization.

A pod of humpbacks doing bubble net feeding.
Photo by Stuart Arnett.

For this particular piece the nautical chart of Hecate Strait became the canvas. As the piece takes form the details of the chart fall into the background the humpbacks start to come into focus and bring the piece to life. Several photographs were used to create this finished artwork and is truly a mixed medium piece. It incorporates, graphite, artist marker, colour pencil as well as watercolour paint.

“Raincoast Humpbacks” measures 32”H X 42” W ( unframed ) and retails for $ 8,500.00 plus applicable taxes and will be framed and ready to hang. An amount of 50% of the retail price will be donated to the Raincoast Conservation Foundation so that they can continue their work on the BC coast.

Raincoast Humpbacks

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Stuart Arnett's illustration of the humpbacks bubble feeding, illustrated over a map.
Raincoast Humpbacks, by Stuart Arnett, Wildlife Conservation Artist.

You can help

Raincoast’s in-house scientists, collaborating graduate students, postdoctoral fellows, and professors make us unique among conservation groups. We work with First Nations, academic institutions, government, and other NGOs to build support and inform decisions that protect aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems, and the wildlife that depend on them. We conduct ethically applied, process-oriented, and hypothesis-driven research that has immediate and relevant utility for conservation deliberations and the collective body of scientific knowledge.

We investigate to understand coastal species and processes. We inform by bringing science to decision-makers and communities. We inspire action to protect wildlife and wildlife habitats.

Coastal wolf with a salmon in its month.
Photo by Dene Rossouw.