Eye to eye with the world’s largest animals


WSPA is working with Norwegian animal welfare groups and photographer Bryant Austin to premiere an exhibition of stunning life-sized whale images in Oslo.

Opening tonight, the Eye to Eye exhibition offers visitors a unique view of these usually elusive and enigmatic creatures, accompanied by the sounds of whale calls.

The huge photos – shown at a fraction of the size here – focus on the eyes of humpback, sperm and minke whales, providing a way for visitors to relate to them as fellow mammals.

This is an exciting and relevant view to offer in Norway, where the government continues to award an annual whaling quota of 885 minke whales despite an international ban on commercial hunts.

Veterinarian and marine mammal coordinator for Dyrebeskyttelsen Norge, Tanya Schumacher, said: “We hope and believe that meeting the whales ‘eye to eye’ will create a new understanding and respect for these animals.”

Seeing the big picture

Norway’s Dyrebeskyttelsen Norge and NOAH-for dyrs rettigheter worked with WSPA and Marine Mammal Conservation through the Arts (MMCTA) to create the show, which gives vivid context to the new Big Picture (‘det store bildet’) campaign to end commercial whaling in Norway.

The campaign website allows Norwegians to find out more about whales and whaling. The groups behind it hope that people will feel inspired to think again about how whaling affects these sentient and social animals.

Siri Martinsen, veterinarian and leader of NOAH - for dyrs rettigheter, said: “By launching the Big Picture campaign we aim to create a proper political and public debate about the welfare of whales in our waters. We feel that Norwegians are ready to look at whales and whaling with fresh eyes.”

Facing up to cruelty

Bryant Austin contemplates his life-size photos at the Eye to Eye exhibition in Norway.

Bryant Austin contemplates his life-size photos at the Eye to Eye exhibition in Norway.

© WSPA

By visiting the Big Picture website and adding a piece of the puzzle – eventually unveiling a hidden minke whale – Norwegians have the opportunity to leave messages explaining why they want to see an end to commercial whaling.

Claire Bass, Marine Mammal Programme Manager for WSPA, comments: “Each year hundreds of whales endure terrible wounds from exploding harpoons, they can take an hour to die. In a recent poll only one in five Norwegians found this acceptable. We hope that compassionate Norwegians will take this opportunity to speak out to end this suffering.”

Around 500 minke whales have been killed in Norwegian waters so far in 2009, despite the country’s otherwise impressive animal welfare legislation.

The Big Picture campaign runs in Norway until the 2010 whaling season begins next April. If you want to act against whaling, please take part in WSPA’s letter writing campaign >>

Going eye to eye …

Bryant Austin, skilled underwater photographer and  founder of MMCTA, will speak at tonight’s launch. He spends months with specific whale populations and uses the world’s most advanced digital photo technology to create the life-size pictures, including the 5.5 metre-long portrait of a sperm whale calf included in this exhibition.

Bryant said: “To be eye to eye with an inquisitive whale is a rare and special moment. I am excited to be able to offer a new perspective on whales and hope that it will stimulate and inspire a debate about how we should treat these animals.”

Exhibition details

Eye to Eye will be on show at:
The Literature House, Oslo, 14–16th August
Whaling museum, Sandefjord, 19 August–16 September.

 

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