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Wayward Whales

wayward whales by Maggie Hurley

The Inspiration for my Wayward Whales paintings

In 2014, I was on a surf trip in Mexico. A small group of ladies and I were on a small boat (we were going to paddle into a break). We took a little detour through an area where humpbacks were teaching their calves the ways of the whales. A humpback and her calf came alongside our boat and came up for breaths every few minutes or so. There was a suggestion about a friendly contest of who could get the best photo of the whales. We were hoping the whales would breach, but they seemed to be in a bit of a lull. So I did something a little crazy and suggested to the ladies that we ask the whales for a double breach.

We all started having silent conversations with our whale friends. About a minute or two later, just off the bow of the boat, the mother and calf breached, simultaneously. I happened to have my camera pointed in the right direction, but we were too close for me to get both in the lens. You can see some of the photos here.

It was a moment that made me question my occasionally cynical approach to the world. Everyone on the boat started screaming with delight. There were tears. Even the boat captain was amazed. I felt like somehow, we had connected with these whales. That they heard us ask for something, and gave it to us, with no expectation for anything in return. That experience changed me.

To top it off, I can’t ignore the steady stream of news stories about whales perishing. Whether their bellies are full of plastic, or the ocean is becoming too toxic to support them (and other sea life), their need for help is clear. I was thinking about climate change, rising ocean levels, and what our own futures look like. I found myself daydreaming about what would happen if the ocean became uninhabitable to the point that whales took to the sky. Or, will the oceans rise and submerge our cities?

I’m doing what I can to raise awareness that we need to seriously think about how our actions affect life around us. I am donating a portion of my sales from this work to the Lonely Whale Foundation.The Lonely Whale Foundation

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