“Wishing Whale” Hopes to Awaken Onlookers to Environmental Peril | Sag Harbor Express
By Michelle Trauring
The 6-foot-tall steel whale tail stretches up toward the ceiling, its 7-foot-wide flukes parallel to the floor. It makes an immediate impression and, with enough clearance to walk underneath, begs to be explored, and explained.
The derelict lobster traps, abandoned plastic and tangled lines woven together across its surface tell a disheartening story — one about the garbage clogging up the ocean and its marine life, one the East End knows all too well.
But from underneath, by just looking up, the bleakness abates momentarily. Nestled within the tail are dozens of glass bottles filled with wishes, scribbled on rolled up pieces of paper, waiting to be granted.
The messages will remain forever private, known only to the original writers, though visitors can speculate on what they say. At least one wishes for a healthier environment, a cleaner ocean and a world that works together in harmony to make those happen.
That bottle belongs to artist Cindy Pease Roe.
She is the visionary behind “Wishing Whale,” which will be moved outside on April 22 and unveiled during an Earth Day celebration at the Southampton Arts Center, featuring a number of environmentally conscious vendors with a singular vision: making this world a better place, which includes bringing awareness to the ever-growing problem in the sea.
“Whales are in every single ocean like, unfortunately, plastic is today,” Ms. Roe explained. “They’re really a large presence, where people can relate to them. They can see they’re big and they can see the impact when three whales wash up on the beach and are dead because they’re eating plastic.
“We have got to wake up,” she said. “And we have to wake up fast because our ocean environment is changing drastically.”
The Greenport-based artist’s love affair with the ocean dates back to when she was a young girl, summering on Cape Cod. It was a simple time, she said, her days filled with berry picking, family bonding and, of course, countless hours spent at the beach. She swam every day and sailed while her brothers fished, their fresh catches adorning the dinner table as the sun set.