Trapped" Inspired by the story/film "Big Miracle
24 X 36 in. Oil on canvas
I'm taking a break from Global Warming for a bit because I was inspired by a heart-warming sea story that just came in my way. I love doing paintings after stories.
Yes, I was inspired by a (whale of a tail)story made into a movie that just came out this year. The movie "Big Miracle." I love whales and think they are beautiful, gentle, peaceful, and the most magnificent creatures on this planet. This story is about Gray Whales. Gray whales are extremely peaceful and friendly animals. They are very much like us. They are very social and family oriented. They care for their family members, especially for their babies. They will not leave a family member if they are in danger or hurt, or sick. The are also curious. I've heard that they come up to you and want to check you out. Whales are truly the Gentle giants of the sea. Gray whales grow close to 50 feet ( 12-14 meters) and weigh up to 35 tons. Grays travel one of the longest migrations of any animal every year. They swim 12, 400 miles (20,000 km) from their feeding grounds in the Bering Sea to the lagoons of Mexico's Baja California. Timing is extremely important to them, they must leave their feeding grounds fast or the sea ice can trap them near the coastal waters. It is a natural thing that sometimes broken pieces of ice forms around the whales where they become "trapped" (surrounded by ice)in the center of the ice. The pieces stick together again and freeze, locking the whales within. Most of the time, whales die this way. You see, whales are just like humans in this way that when we are under water, we must come up to the surface for air. Whales have a "blow hole/blowholes" on the tops of their heads. These are nostrals actually. Toothed whales (like dolphins, Orcas or Killer whales, Sperm whales, Balugas, etc.) have a single blow hole. Whales without teeth (such as these Gray Whales, Humpbacks, Blue Whales, Fin Whales, Right whales, etc.) but have baleen (a type of natural seive or filter)have two blowholes. Just like humans, all whales and dolphins must come up to the surface to breath using their blowholes.
In October 1988, three Gray Whales, a mother, father, and their calf became trapped off the coast of Barrow, Alaska on their annual journey. Since they were so far from the open ocean, this whale family had no way to travel under the ice so far. There was no place to come up to breath. Local Inupiat (eskimos)hunters (whale hunters)who do have a respect and love for whales had second thoughts to try and save these beautiful whales instead of eating them which is their ancient way of survival. Usually these people hunt "Right Whales," Grays are an exception. The Inupiat hunters cut a pathway of "breathing holes" in the ice using chainsaws that led all the way to the open ocean. These people worked so hard, cutting the holes days and nights through temps below freezing. Because of the freezing temperatures, the previous holes kept freezing over again so a company was sent over with a device to keep circulating the water preventing it from freezing. Luckily, the devices noise actually attracted the whales which helped lure them to the next breathing hole ahead. This event brought the Soviet Union and the United States together in cooperation to save the whales. The Soviets used an Ice breaker to cut a miles-long path to make it easier for the whales. The people then helped the whales by guiding them the easiest way possible through the jumbled pieces of ice left behind by the ice breakers. Then the whales could continue on their journey.
Unfortunately, despite all the long, tedious process, one of the whales didn't make it to the open ocean. Only two of them survived. The movie shows that the calf died, but in real life, it only mentions one of them died-it doesn't say which one. Naturally, we would think the baby, since babies are a little weaker and depend on their parents for everything just like human babies. Throughout this rescue effort, somehow the whales seemed to know that man was helping them.
I saw the movie, which was pretty good. I do feel that the events in real life must have been much more exciting and dramatic.
BIG MIRACLE, Feb. 2012...now in theaters.