Whales Festival Attendees Invited to Help Paint Community Mural Honoring Santa Barbara Channel’s Worldclass Designation

Attendees who attend the 25th Annual Celebration of the Whales Festival are invited to help paint a mural that honors the Santa Barbara Channel’s recent designation as a Whale Heritage Area.

Thanks to the work of a group of local whale enthusiasts, the Santa Barbara Channel earned the prestigious milestone by being designated the 9th Whale Heritage Area in the world.

The Whale Heritage Area (WHS) program is an initiative created by the World Cetacean Alliance, and currently runs in partnership with World Animal Protection, to formally recognize and accredit destinations around the world that support and demonstrate the importance of cetaceans (whales, dolphins, and porpoises) and their ocean habitats.

“We couldn’t think of a more fitting venue to honor the Santa Barbara Channel’s designation as a Whale Heritage Area than at our Celebration of the Whales Festival,” said Michael Tripp, Ventura County Harbor Department Director. “We hope attendees can participate in this great community mural project while also learning about what makes the Santa Barbara Channel a worldclass destination for whale watching.”

The Ventura County Harbor Department, organizer of the whales festival, collaborated with the Oxnard Performing Arts Center Corporation (OPAC) on the mural project. This marks the second year in a row OPAC employee Elisa Torres, a member of OPAC’s Art Studio, has created the art for the mural.

According to OPAC, Torres’ design pays homage to the diverse species of whales that grace the Santa Barbara Channel. The whale depicted mid-breach serves as the centerpiece of the design, symbolizing the exuberance and vitality of these colossal sea mammals. In addition, Torres’ use of 90’s bold, saturated colors breathe life into the scene, making it pop with energy and movement. This choice reflects her intention to craft an artwork that is not only eye-catching but also evokes the exhilaration of whale watching, a beloved pastime for visitors to the Channel Islands and its Harbor.

Once the concept was completed, OPAC staff is putting together a canvas and a sketch of the mural is being created. At the event, attendees will paint parts of the mural with pre-assigned colors for each area of the canvas.

Check out the mural that was created last year!