Art for Sea to Sky: Rise
Rise – 36”x48” – 2021 – acrylic on canvas
Strength. Resilience. Survival. Orcas (Yew̓yews) are remarkable hunters. In addition to strong eyesight they use biosonar and acoustic sound waves to sense their environment. They create unique clicks, squeaks and whistles to communicate and strategize with fellow members of their pod/family group. This natural sonar system also helps them map their surroundings, locate prey, and even see inside the bodies of other whales, kind of like an ultrasound!
The Southern Resident Killer Whales (SRKW) are currently under extreme pressure in their home waters of the Salish Sea. SRKW’s are grouped into three pods: J, K and L, and with only 75 individuals remaining they are listed as endangered under the Endangered Species Act. While impacts to the health of the whales are numerous and complicated there are three
main causes of decline: reduction in the quality and quantity of their main prey (Chinook Salmon/Sts’úḵwi7), organic pollutants that can cause immune and/or reproductive system decline, and noise and disturbance from marine traffic.
Despite these impacts, ‘Rise’ is a celebration of life- a celebration of Atl’ka7tsem/Howe Sound. It is a celebration of cleaner air, cleaner water, cleaner land. Positioned in front of Port Mellon/Ḵ’iḵ’élx̱n, which is the location of a pulp mill that once released so many pollutants into the Sound it was an environmental disaster, an Orca spyhops to survey her surroundings. What might she see? A bountiful place to eat? A place to socialize, to work, to play, to sleep safely in quiet waters? What can we do to help make Atl’ka7tsem/Howe Sound suitable for all species to thrive, so that we may too thrive alongside them?