Storylines – Sacred Ocean

In November 2008, the Sacred Ocean anti-whaling campaign was launched by Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu at the Two Oceans Aquarium in Cape Town. Sponsored by the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) and in partnership with the Two Oceans Aquarium, Sacred Ocean and the Great Whaling Debate focus on the magnificence of whales and the imperative to bring an end to the brutal practice of commercial whaling.

Sacred Ocean is centered around Noel’s iconic 3.4 metre sculpture that is on permanent display in the foyer of the aquarium. Its symbolism reflects on man’s long relationship with whales, and, with a media and signature campaign, raises awareness around whales, their magnificence, the threats to their survival, and with a special emphasis on bringing to light the brutality of modern whaling.

Looking at Sacred Ocean, time has stopped, for a while. Standing nearly four metres tall, the whales face the viewer creating an emotive, physical presence. The viewer is somehow urged to feel something, to dig into his/her recesses and to start the inquiry. About themselves, about life, about the whales and about the future of the seas and the planet. (Janis Theron)

Storylines - Sacred Ocean (header)

“I created Sacred Ocean as a symbol of my strongest wish that we celebrate our shared existence on this beautiful blue planet, and that the horrendous killing of whales must stop. Join me and let this sculpture represent your voice as well, and vote in the Great Whaling Debate – it might take you a minute, but that minute could save the life of a magnificent whale.” (Noel Ashton)

In his address, Archbishop Tutu spoke poignantly about our impact on the natural world – “Are we surprised that we can gun down innocent people in hotels, and bomb innocent children, when we can behave so barbarically towards God’s creatures? This campaign warns us that we are slowly ourselves committing a kind of suicide. If it is not a physical suicide, it is a moral and ethical suicide. For our own sakes even more so than for the whales, we need to recover our humaneness, our humanity and our Ubuntu. It is time to say no, no, no! to the killing of whales.”

Storylines - Sacred Ocean (Whaling Debate)

T H E  G R E A T  W H A L I N G  D E B A T E

At the  launch of Sacred Ocean, Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu cast the first vote in  The Great Whaling Debate. This initiative, created by Noel in partnership with IFAW International, gauged people’s feelings around whaling and many thousands of people participated in the debate, casting their vote and giving an indication of public sentiment around the issue.

The Great Whaling Debate is on display in the Two Oceans Aquarium, with its message from actor and whale activist Pierce Brosnan, offering visitor’s to this prestigious destination the opportunity to take part in this global anti-whaling campaign.


Sacred Ocean – by Janis Theron

The Great Whaling Debate – by Jennifer Stern

Full Circle – Sacred Ocean