Jen Richards

Wildlife artist

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re·sur·gent  (r-sûrjnt)


1. Experiencing or tending to bring about renewal or revival.
2. Sweeping or surging back again.
In progress.

In progress.

I had mentioned before that I wanted to paint an oceanic whitetip shark, and this month couldn’t have been a more appropriate time to do it. At the beginning of March, the 16th Conference of the Parties of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species discussed proposals to add oceanic whitetips and several other overexploited elasmobranchs to CITES Appendix II. This would significantly change the game for these species by regulating their trade and helping to bring relief to devastated populations (oceanic whitetips in the Gulf of Mexico had seen a 99% decrease in population). This is what so many scientists, conservation organisations and individuals had been tirelessly working to achieve. The proposals for manta rays, porbeagle sharks, oceanic whitetips and scalloped, great and smooth hammerheads all initially passed, with delegates highlighting these species’ low reproduction rates and importance to ecotourism despite much pressure from Japan and China, but it wasn’t until the conference was almost over that each of those proposals were upheld. It was a massive win for these animals, and worth all the sleep I lost watching a grainy, slow video feed from Bangkok.

Oceanic whitetips have caught my attention for a long time, not just because of their striking colouration but because their pelagic lifestyle leads to such stunning imagery: greys and bronzes and white tips flanked by black and white escorts, all surrounded by a seemingly endless deep blue. I used a 10 x 20 100% cotton duck canvas for this one, which created a slightly different texture than what I’ve become used to. It was very enjoyable to paint on! And despite any grumblings I may have uttered as I worked on them, I actually did like adding a lot of small detailing to the pilot fish.

Size comparison of my finger with one of the pilot fish: ow, my eyes.

Size comparison of my finger with one of the pilot fish: ow, my eyes.

My thanks and congrats go out again to everyone who worked so hard to afford this victory for our sharks, especially the dedicated folks at Shark Defenders, the CITES4sharks coalition, and PEW Environment Group. Sharks are far from being out of danger, but this was a big bright spot in a complicated struggle.