Wilmington’s Whaling Wall

While on the coast a few months ago, I took the girls to see Wilmington’s whaling wall. Created by famous marine life artist Wyland in 1993, the giant mural has been my favorite public art display for most of my life.

Wyland started painting life-size sea creatures on the sides of buildings back in the 1980s. His goal was to raise awareness about ocean conservation by painting 100 whaling walls. After spending more than 20 years on the project, he completed the series in 2008.

Facts About Wilmington’s Whaling Wall

  • The Wyland series was one of the most extensive public art projects in history. It spanned five continents, 17 countries, and 79 cities around the globe.
  • More than 25 of the whaling walls are considered “extinct” today.
  • The Wilmington whaling wall was dedicated on August 30, 1993, by Mayor Don Betz. It is viewed by the hundreds of thousands of people who visit downtown each year.
  • The painting is titled “Coastal Dolphins,” and depicts bottlenose dolphins playing in the ocean.
  • The artwork is 30 feet wide and 40 feet high. It is displayed at 503 Nutt Street on the wall of Best Western Plus Coastline Inn.
  • “Coastal Dolphins” is the only whaling wall in North Carolina. However, there is another nearby just across the state line in Myrtle Beach.

Wilmington’s whaling wall looks like it’s headed for extinction. Though still beautiful, the painting is faded and chipping. The Wyland Foundation has restored and retouched several whaling walls over the years. Let’s hope the vanishing “Coastal Dolphins” is on their priority list.

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