Standing on the shore, sand between your toes, you look out to the ocean, scanning for a glimpse of them: you’ve been waiting for their return. They mark the passage of spring turning to summer, their presence in the bay growing stronger like the humidity in the air. The anticipation you feel is childlike in its fizzing exuberance, only Christmas Eves, long past, compare. A spouting of water into the air, breaking above the surface like diamonds, signals what’s coming. Your heart leaps. Moments pass, you wait... There! Rising out of the deep comes the great tail, enormous, brilliant, poised. The tail crashes down against the water, sending white water flying, foaming all around where it had broken through. A flash of exuberant joy runs through you; you never knew you would feel that feeling again, once adulthood had ushered out innocence. But there is this and it is exquisite, a reclaiming of your lost self in a brief moment of witnessing magnificence in play.
The sojourn of humpback whales through Byron Bay twice a year has become one of the spectacular and defining ecological features of the town. Blessed twice, we see them on our horizon heading north to Hervey Bay to mate and calf, and then we get them on their return trip south to Antarctica for the feeding season. When they return, calves in tow, is when we are lucky enough to witness their true and complete magic. Sometimes so close to shore you think you could touch them, we watch them leap from the water, slap their pectoral fins and of course, slap their magnificent tails, sending wide arcs of shattered sea water flying into the air.
Beyond the spectacular experience of getting to see them live their best whale lives, their very presence is a much needed and perpetual lesson that human beings can do better and give hope to our marine life. Once hunted to near extinction, and with Byron Bay itself once a whaling town (killing 1046 humpback whales in just 8 years of operation,) the 1966 moratorium on whaling has allowed populations to climb back at 10-11% a year. With so many dire realities for our marine life on the precipice, this turn around in the reality for humpback whales proves that we can change course if we are active and allow positive changes to occur.
Our belief that we can and will enact positive change for our oceans through action and commitment is why one of the not for profit initiatives Stonemen is committing to through our partnership with 1% for the Planet is: Positive Change for Marine Life. Not only are PCML running numerous programs to improve our oceans: from working on waste management initiatives to keep plastics out of the ocean in Kerala, India, to fisheries management and shark conservation in Australia, they are also a local, Byron Bay initiative. Supporting our neighbours to make global changes is where it’s at for us, and we are so proud to be supporting them.
As a salute to the humpback whales of Byron Bay, for making this place the unique and remarkable spot on the map that it is, Stonemen brings you our latest print: Whale Tail! This striking print captures the wonder and the mystery of glimpsing these incredible creatures in action. With tail raised high, ready to slap the water, the immediacy and power of this print is tangible. This print is for all who feel bottomless joy and respect for the ocean, and its life. For those who know that flashes of glory are fleeting, but that if you pay attention, you can catch them, and for anyone who just, plain, finds whales beautiful and majestic.