Kaikoura’s marine life to grace t-shirt
This year’s Eco Art Exhibition will feature some interesting teamwork as Kaiko¯ura’s marine animals are brought together to promote a local education and research group.
In the wild, orca and dusky dolphins may not be the best of friends, but they co-exist harmoniously on a new t-shirt design from 20-year-old wildlife artist Katie Eshelman, who produced the print for the Kaikoura Ocean Research Institute (KORI).
Eshelman, from the United States, lived in Kaiko¯ura from January to April as part of the Creation Care Study Abroad Programme (CCSP) which brings American students to New Zealand to learn about its rich natural environment.
As part of her marine ecology and conservation studies, Eshelman was taught by KORI’s director, Dr Jody Weir, and it was Weir who Eshelman credits with causing her to fall in love with the ocean.
The t-shirt features 63 species, from the mighty blue whale down to the pa¯ua and cushion sea star, each of them meticulously drawn by Eshelman.
‘‘Each of the creatures on that shirt has a rich past, filled with quirky habits and complex behaviours, and a relationship to mankind’’ she said.
‘‘If this shirt helps one person be more interested in protecting [the ocean], then the whole project will be so worth it.’’
Eshelman hopes that sales of the t-shirt will benefit KORI, a Kaiko¯ura-based charity working to protect local marine species through research and education. KORI’s work includes weekly monitoring of the local little blue penguin colony as well as health and population studies of endangered Hector’s dolphins.
‘‘Education is a large part of what KORI aims to do,’’ Weir said.
‘‘The fact that Katie feels so strongly about Kaiko¯ura’s marine environment as a result of her time here is brilliant, and we are very grateful for all the time and effort she has put into creating this fantastic design for us to use.’’
For Eshelman, who has now returned to the US, the design will always be a ‘‘small token of my thanks for all the priceless gifts the people, places, and creatures of Kaiko¯ura have given me.’’
For a chance to view the print, and pre-order t-shirts featuring the design, visit the Eco Art Exhibition from June 2 to 5 at the Old Scout Hall.