Every year, late November marks the season for endangered North Atlantic right whales to come home to Georgia’s waters to calve their newborns. With only about 360 of these whales known to be alive, the Georgia ocean area plays a vital role in protecting and honoring these whales.
As these migratory whales travel to the reaches of Canada’s waters each Spring and back down to the Coast of Georgia each Winter, they face an amplified struggle for survival. From ship strikes to fishing lines or seismic blasting off our coasts, their journey is perilous.
Since 2018 local and international nonprofits, artists, scientists, and advocates together to welcome the whales home to warmer waters by exploring the history, present issues, and future of this gentle giant. Whale Week brings scientific, cultural, and historical education events to the Georgia area connecting locals with their inner ocean steward.
Whale Week was conceived by Paulita Bennett-Martin and Tara Garrigan.
In 2017, Paulita Bennett-Martin called upon friends from across the world to do artwork depicting their interpretations of the life and death of North Atlantic right whales. That show was called Lines and Strikes and took place at Sulfur Studios in Savannah Georgia. She saw the power of art to bring ocean conservation into the hearts of minds of a broader and more diverse community. After that initial art show, other local leaders from around Savannah stepped up and said why does this need to be one night, and so Whale Week was created! Paulita is a lifelong natural born sea lover, with her roots in the tropics. She’s a proud daughter of an Irish American maverick named Robert and a fun-loving Belizean mom named Amparo. Whale Week’s founder works for the world’s largest ocean conservation in the world, Oceana in Washington DC. She also founded her own community first conservation organization in the Caribbean, called Sea of Life. When she isn’t working, she spends as much time as possible visiting new beaches, reefs, and exploring the world with her husband Edgemont, and their trusty cat Tigger Boy and dog Penny.
Tara Garrigan is a Savannah-based illustrator whose work includes a children’s book about right whales, “Whale Alert! Tybee Craddock and the Endangered Right Whale.” Garrigan approached Bennett-Martin in 2019 wanting to know how they could collaborate for another year of right whale stewardship. As the women planned, they drew in other educators, artists and scientists. Tara’s work focuses on creating original artwork for kids’ comics and traditional children’s books that inspire imagination and creative thinking through unique, surreal creatures and dreamscapes. Working with talented writers with a unique perspective or abstract story to tell is what she does best!
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