Saving the Planet One CO2 Molecule at a Time: Student Art Exhibit

COST: [Free with museum admission]
Organizer: Santa Barbara Maritime Museum

In November and December 2021, Santa Barbara Maritime Museum (SBMM) staff worked with students from Laguna Blanca Middle School, Peabody Charter, Santa Barbara Charter, and Santa Ynez Elementary School to teach them about the importance of whales to the environment and to create whale-inspired artwork to coincide with the museum’s newest exhibit, Whales Are Superheroes! The result of those efforts is on display in SBMM’s new student art exhibit, Whales are Superheroes! Saving the Planet One CO2 Molecule at a Time, opening on April 14, 2022, and on display through July 31, 2022.


Marine biologist Holly Lohuis led interactive lessons in the schools about whales, their ecological role in mitigating climate change, and the high diversity of species we have here in the Santa Barbara Channel. Those sessions were followed by a mixed-media art lesson and instruction with art educator and founder of Lost Art of Love Letters, Sondra Weiss. The students, in both elementary and middle school classrooms, were encouraged to create art that illustrates the significance of these amazing creatures. Their paintings and drawings help raise awareness of our rapidly warming climate, how it will affect future generations, and the important role whales play in the process. Although the students’ work from those winter classes is being shown in this exhibit, the educational program is one that SBMM offers to schools throughout the year.


Whales help maintain the stability, productivity, and health of the ocean and minimize some of the worst impacts of climate change. As they dive down to feed, surface to breathe, and migrate throughout the oceans, whales serve as nutrient pumps, moving nutrients that stimulate the growth of phytoplankton and converting large amount of carbon dioxide to oxygen. When they die and sink to the ocean floor, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) estimates that whales have the potential to capture 1.7 billion tons of CO2 annually, if we allow them to restore to their pre-whaling numbers.


Research has shown that whales are a true nature-based solution to reducing the impacts of climate change, all of which is presented in SBMM’s newest permanent exhibit—Whales Are Superheroes! – also opening on April 14, 2022. This student art exhibit illustrates the children’s understanding of the role these ocean-going mammals can play in protecting our climate and environment…that, indeed, Whales Are Superheroes! Saving the Planet One CO2 Molecule at a Time.


This exhibit is made possible thanks to the generosity of the following sponsors: Brown Family Foundation, Chevron, Dreier Family, Emmett Foundation, Hank and Mari Mitchel, Jack Mithun and Mercedes Millington, June G. Outhwaite Foundation, and the Wood-Claeyssens Foundation.

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