Artwork Description

'Out of their depth' is a piece based on a true wildlife incident that happened recently in the Swan Canning Riverpark in Perth, Western Australia, my home town.

Highnitch was a Bottlenose Dolphin (Turiops aduncus) living in the Riverpark and was first recorded by researchers in 2001. She has been monitored by hundreds of scientists and volunteers in the Dolphin Watch project ever since.

Recently she had a calf named Splash who was named by a local school as part of an initiative by the Perth Children's Hospital's Big Splash program to bring children's mental health into a public forum for safe discussion. The dolphins were a great way to gently talk to children and community about safe ways to deal with problems and to lean on our family and friends for support. Dolphins live in close knit communities like humans and are dependent on each other for their safety and food resources by communicating closely with each other and forming bonded groups.

Splash became entangled in discarded fishing line and very shortly after, Highnitch also became entangled. Highnitch and Splash suffered several months of painful entanglement cutting into their bodies and causing infection. Highnitch was found dead washed up on a beach with horrific entanglement around her dorsal fin and tail with a discarded mulch bag attached to the line which was dragging her body down. Her calf Splash lived for only a week longer, not having the protection or food from her Mother and was also found dead washed up on a river bank.

Having worked with the volunteers, scientists and community to monitor and protect this small population of dolphins living in the river system that runs through the heart of the city, many people were deeply affected by yet another needless death of innocent animals just trying to survive.

Highnitch and Splash are my inspiration for this piece. I hope that their deaths may not be in vain, but be a reminder for us all to respect and care for the oceans and waterways by limiting the impact we have on the wildlife that call these water bodies home.

I wish and hope for a better relationship between humanity and the sea.


Acrylic ink and paint on canvas

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Marnie Giroud

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