ART | Seeds of Change

PangeaSeed turns street art into marine conservation 

By Damon Orion 

Photos By Tre Packard

WIP_1_Freeman White_Photo by Michael Schultz

In 2009, Tré Packard was living in Asia, documenting the endangered wildlife trade, with an emphasis on marine life. In the process, he uncovered the largest industrial shark finning operation in Asia.

“It was kind of a watershed moment,” he recalls. “I’d been in the trenches for a few years, documenting death and destruction. Seeing animals that I care about so much slaughtered on a commercial level really rattled me.”

This spurred Packard to create PangeaSeed Foundation, a collective of 300-plus artists from all over the globe who use art, education and activism to generate interest in ocean health and conservation. Through its Sea Walls program, PangeaSeed has created more than 300 large-scale murals in 12 countries. In this way, the foundation engages viewers’ senses with works of art that shed light on the impact of factors like climate change, overfishing and pollution on our oceans.

The first part of PangeaSeed’s name (literally, “entire earth”) expresses the fundamental unity of our planet’s separate regions. Along with implying growth, the “Seed” in the moniker is an acronym for the group’s four keystones: sustainability, education, ecology and design.

PangeaSeed puts the first of those principles into action by using the lowest-impact materials possible for its art. The collective has forged partnerships with companies that make spray paint from sugar cane and environmentally friendly acrylic paint, and when making products like T-shirts and prints, it uses environmentally sound items such as soy-based inks and recycled water bottles.

The collective promotes education through programs like The New Wave, which offers scholarships to young people who are starting careers in marine science, and Oceaneers, which encourages young artists between the ages of 8 and 12 to create ocean-themed works. PangeaSeed also offers eco-educational tours and free workshops.

In 2015, PangeaSeed led the first expedition to satellite-tag and study critically endangered scalloped hammerhead sharks off the coast of Japan. The organization continues to tag sharks and collect data on their movements. In 2018, Packard and co. will work with the Japanese government to create the country’s first shark sanctuary.

As Packard notes, the importance of PangeaSeed’s cause is universal. “Issues like ocean acidification, warming oceans, overfishing, plastics and pollution affect all of us,” he offers. “If oceans go, it’s going to affect everybody, regardless of your race, religion or checking account balance.”

1. James Bullough (Germany)

Title: Pania of the Reef

Topic: Ocean Acidification

Mural location: Napier, New Zealand

Artist statement:

‘Pania of the Reef’ is the legendary protector of the reef in local Maori folklore and is believed to live in the waters off the coast of Napier, the city where her portrait is painted. Due to man made climate concerns, specifically the raising CO2 levels in our atmosphere, the acidity levels of our oceans have risen and continue to rise as alarming rates killing our reefs and the delicate ecosystems around them worldwide. Pania is depicted floating defiant and hopeful over her baron reef despite the face that she herself is also dissolving from the acidification of the ocean.


2. FLOX (New Zealand)

Title: Honor and Trust

Topic: Local endangered marine mammals

Mural location: Napier, New Zealand

 Artist statement: This piece pays homage to some of Aotearoa’s endangered Marine Mammals including the NZ Sea lion, Elephant Seal, and beloved Maui Dolphin. These wonderful creatures are under pressure
due to an array of issues, such as habitat destruction, food source depletion and over-fishing. The artwork’s composition is based loosely on a coat of arms, with the animals and their royal adornments working together as symbols of peace, love, honor and trust – the fundamentals of the relationship between human and animal.


3. Freeman White (New Zealand)

Title: Sharkwater

Topic: Local endangered marine species / tribute to the late conservationist Rob Stewart

Mural location: Napier, New Zealand

Artist statement: I have painted the Mural as a tribute to Oceanographer and filmmaker Rob Stewart who tragically drowned earlier this year filming the sequel to his award-winning film Sharkwater, off the Florida coast. I have included the quote from Rob “Conservation is the preservation of human life on Earth”
I opted to paint a mural that portrays the Shark as a powerful Majestic creatures.

Sharks are greatly misunderstood and often portrayed in a negative way yet they are in fact beautiful and graceful animals. I wish to engage the viewer with a powerful and beautiful image and make them think about sharks as an essential part of the ecosystem. With up to 100 million sharks killed annually fueling the trade in shark fins, shark conservation is an important topic as these apex predators are swiftly becoming endangered globally.


4. Onur (Switzerland)

Title: Last Island

Topic: Climate change, global warming, endangered species, and habitat loss

Mural location: Napier, New Zealand

Artist statement: Summer and winter are inching closer, the four seasons melting together. Due to climate warming, to which we are undoubtedly contributing, polar icecaps and glaciers are shrinking. The Arctic is bound to set yet another summer melt record this year. An iceberg shouldn’t have to drift past a North Sea beach, for us to realize just how close our relationship to the Arctic and Antarctic is. My mural depicts the post apocalyptic scenario of the last iceberg.


5. Pat Perry (USA)

Title: Reweave the Unraveling World

Topic: Human impact on the ocean environment with a focus on plastic waste and pollution

Mural location: Napier, New Zealand

Artist statement: “Reweave the Unraveling World” is a mural about hope. It depicts a boat sailing in a vast gray sea devastated by human impact such as pollution and garbage. On board, there is a girl holding a pinwheel and her mother weaving a tapestry of a healthy blue ocean. The result is a clear contrast between a polluted world and a healthy one, based on alternative energies and respect for nature. The mural is critical of the modern world, where the artist is spotlighting pressing environmental issues the oceans and humanity are facing.


6. Fintan Magee (Australia)

Title: The Price We Pay

Topic: Overfishing

Mural location: San Diego, California

Artist statement: While researching the topic I discovered some of the devastating effects of overfishing, it’s unsustainable impact on the eco-system in the oceans, and need to work highlight these issues for the wider public to take action. As humans, it’s imperative that we stop polluting and overfishing the oceans. We need to sustain the health of the ocean so that we can sustainably use the resources that need to be respected and protected before it’s too late.

FINAL_MURAL_Fintan_Magee_©Tre_Packard_2017 (1)

7. Meggs (Australia)

Title: Coral Conch Shell

Topic: Ocean acidification, global warming, and habitat loss

Mural location: Cozumel, Mexico

Artist statement: My ‘Coral Conch Shell’ mural depicts the percentages of destruction vs. beauty of our Coral Reef systems, which are some of the most diverse and invaluable ecosystems in the world. It is calculated that 25-30% of coral reefs have already been destroyed, and 50-60% will have been destroyed if the current rate of destruction continues!! Increased carbon dioxide emissions and global warming are causing ocean acidification levels to drastically rise and break down delicate invertebrates and reefs systems worldwide.

We must reduce our carbon footprints, create less plastic/packaged waste, eat fresh locally sourced foods, think & act sustainably. Less is More, Live with Less!


8. Spok (Spain)

Title: Game Over

Topic: Marine mammal captivity

Mural location: Cancun, Mexico

Artist statement: My mural focuses on dolphin captivity. Thousands of dolphins around the world are still legally held captive for human entertainment. In the wild, bottlenose dolphins are known to swim over 100 miles a day. In captivity, they are confined to small tanks and they are trained to do tricks for food.

There are 29 captive dolphin facilities in Mexico, keeping a total of approximately 342 individual cetaceans. Of the Mexican dolphin parks, at least 67% are located in the state of Quintana Roo, on the Yucatan Peninsula. Since 2008 11 new facilities have opened and dolphin quantities have increased by around 36% dolphin parks can be found in shopping centers, marinas, hotel complexes, zoos and in theme parks. Support freedom, not captivity!



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