Pictures and words can change the world: here's how to help save the whales

Published on: 17 January 2019 Author: Nicola Davies

For author Nicola Davies, hearing and seeing whales has changed her life. Now these beautiful mammals appear to be in danger, and she wants us to use our creative powers for good. 

When I was 15, I heard a recording of the strange, haunting song of a humpback whale, and it changed my life. That song led me to reading about the lives of wild whales, to doing a degree in zoology (the study of animals) and to helping with studies of whales in the wild. I have spent some of the most joyful times of my life standing on the decks of small boats and remote sea cliffs, watching what whales get up to.

More about Nicola Davies, our Writer in Residence

Make our voices heard

So I was very happy when in 1988 a worldwide ban on the hunting and killing of whales began. Now, the Japanese have said that they are going to ignore the rules altogether and start killing whales and selling them for meat, just like they used to.

I’m sure, like me and most people around the world, you don’t want whales to be killed. But what can we do?

Simple: we can make sure that our voices are heard, and that the Japanese government know just how many people think that this is a very bad idea.

Join in with #WaveOfWhales

So last week I posted an appeal on social media for people – especially children writers, illustrators and you OUR LOVELY READERS – to make pictures and poems of whales and send them to the Japanese Ambassador in London. I called it #waveofwhales.

Last week, children’s book friends did some fantastic pictures and poems, but now schools are back, children all over the country are starting to add their work to the #waveofwhales and it's getting bigger and bigger.

It’s easy to see reading writing and making pictures simply as things you do to keep teachers happy or to keep yourself entertained. But they are much more than that: they are ways to change the world, because change begins inside people hearts – and heads and words and pictures are the way YOU can get right inside those places. Your words and pictures can help make our world better, make it closer to the kind of world you want.

So, how about joining in with #waveofwhales ?

As usual, here are the 3s:

First of all, some information

There are more than 38 different kinds of whales. The biggest is the blue whale, whose heart is the size of a smart car and which is bigger than any animal that has ever lived on earth. Some, like some of the beaked whales, are only known from dead animals that have washed up on beaches and have never been seen in the wild.

The sperm whale has the biggest brain on earth: five to six times bigger than ours. It’s also the deepest-diving whale and can go down to over 2,000 metres below the sea and hold its breath for 50 minutes.

Bowhead whales, which live close to the arctic ice, can live for over 200 years.

Whale poo keeps the oceans healthy, fertilising the tiny plants – phytoplankton – that create most of the oxygen that we breathe! Therefore, three out of four breaths you take connect you to whales.

Now, some ideas

  • What would you feel if you saw a whale? (Some of you might be able to write from experience, here. You can see dolphins and whales from many places on the UK coast.)
  • What would it be like to live in the ocean? For the surface of the sea to be the boundary of your world?
  • What would you know about the life up there in the air?
  • How might a whale feel about being chased and hunted?
  • What would you say to a person who worked on a whaling boat?

And finally, inspiration...

Here are some of the amazing pictures that people have already done for #waveofwhales:

What will you draw or write for #waveofwhales?

Play
Author and illustrator James Mayhew (on Twitter @mrjamesmayhew) and his drawing of a weeping whale song
Poet Dom Conlon (on Twitter @dom_conlon)
Katie Rewse (@katierewse on Twitter): 'This whale is in the post to the Japanese ambassador as part of a protest against the resumption of whale hunting.'
Ciara Flood (on Twitter @TinyFlood): 'Japan’s government has made the decision to resume whaling. @nicolakidsbooks has set up #waveofwhales movement in protest. This is my contribution. Join the campaign if you agree that whaling should stop!'
Author Gill Lewis (@gill__lewis on Twitter)
Bruce McInnes (@McInnesBruce on Twitter): 'Little Mac and I have spent the evening sketching beautiful, breaching whales'
Whale poems being made by children in Brunswick Class, Lansdowne Primary School
Fin whale by Nicola Davies
Writer and illustrator Chris White (on Twitter @chriswhitepoet)
Helen Bader: '...here is my 7-year-old son's contribution to #waveofwhales - he and his classmates are busy creating many more masterpieces as well!'
Jennifer Whatley (on Twitter @jensterwhatley): 'We're sending our whales to the Japanese ambassador to help protest against the resumption of whale hunting. Beautiful creatures.'
Kim Tiller (on Twitter @KimTillyer): 'I posted my #waveofwhales letter to the Japanese Ambassador today, he's a lucky man getting so much art and poetry, from so many concerned people.'
Author/illustrator Yuval Zommer (on Twitter @yuvalzommer)
Postcard from Nicola Davies
Author and illustrator James Mayhew (on Twitter @mrjamesmayhew) and his drawing of a weeping whale song

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Poet Dom Conlon (on Twitter @dom_conlon)

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Katie Rewse (@katierewse on Twitter): 'This whale is in the post to the Japanese ambassador as part of a protest against the resumption of whale hunting.'

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Ciara Flood (on Twitter @TinyFlood): 'Japan’s government has made the decision to resume whaling. @nicolakidsbooks has set up #waveofwhales movement in protest. This is my contribution. Join the campaign if you agree that whaling should stop!'

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Author Gill Lewis (@gill__lewis on Twitter)

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Bruce McInnes (@McInnesBruce on Twitter): 'Little Mac and I have spent the evening sketching beautiful, breaching whales'

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Whale poems being made by children in Brunswick Class, Lansdowne Primary School

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Fin whale by Nicola Davies

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Writer and illustrator Chris White (on Twitter @chriswhitepoet)

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Helen Bader: '...here is my 7-year-old son's contribution to #waveofwhales - he and his classmates are busy creating many more masterpieces as well!'

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Jennifer Whatley (on Twitter @jensterwhatley): 'We're sending our whales to the Japanese ambassador to help protest against the resumption of whale hunting. Beautiful creatures.'

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Kim Tiller (on Twitter @KimTillyer): 'I posted my #waveofwhales letter to the Japanese Ambassador today, he's a lucky man getting so much art and poetry, from so many concerned people.'

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Author/illustrator Yuval Zommer (on Twitter @yuvalzommer)

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Postcard from Nicola Davies

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Writer in Residence

Our current Writer-Illustrator in Residence is Nicola Davies, who is writing blogs, running competitions and giving us her unique perspective on the world of children's books.

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