2016 Science in the Studio Winners

The 2016 Science in the Studio award was designed to promote safe whale viewing. Boaters, kayakers, jet skiers, and paddle boarders often approach whales at close distances and attempt to interact with them—posing significant threats to the wellbeing of the animals and to human safety. Often times, people will approach these animals because they want to get that thrilling experience of being close to a whale. We also live in an era where posting your latest adventure on social media can encourage people to get as close to these majestic creatures as possible. Unfortunately, close encounters can interfere with the natural behavior of the whales, particularly their feeding, breeding, and migration. Excessive or prolonged disruption can cause behavioral changes that could interfere with the health and survival of these animals.

About the Artists

About the 2016 Science in the Studio Winners

Michelle Guthrie and Shelby Smith were selected as this year’s Science in Studio award winners. Together, they addressed the theme “Whales and Humans: A Tale of Two Species.”

They engaged in research-based art practice, traveling through Southern California to meet and interview a diverse range of audiences and NOAA collaborators. Shelby and Michelle worked together to develop the postcard and decal below. They also distributed the postcard and decal to beach communities in California. Michelle and Shelby also hosted “Whale Talks,” a forum to share research and dialogue about human interaction with whales. To start the series, they screened the documentary film, A Life Among Whales, which featured the work of marine biologist Roger Payne.

Safe Whale Watching Decal

Safe Whale Watching Postcard

Take Action

Seeing marine wildlife in their natural environment can be a thrilling experience. In our excitement, we sometimes forget that our presence has an effect on wildlife and their habitat.

When we get too close, approach too fast, or make too much noise, we may be disrupting sleeping, feeding, socializing, and breeding behaviors and causing the animals unnecessary stress. Set an example for others, and help protect our marine mammals.