How I Sea, I Blobfish – Using Comics To Save Endangered Ocean Animals·
Meet Harry, the creator of I, Blobfish – a comics series that takes an entirely new approach to raising awareness around ocean issues. Harry works to bring a voice to not only the iconic animals in our oceans – but the less attractive ones as well. Because ALL life at sea matters.
All sales from the artwork that Harry creates are donated towards the World Wildlife Fund‘s efforts to protect endangered species.
Here, we had the chance to ask Harry about his perspectives on marine conservation issues as a student and artist.
A bit of your background: what are your interests? And what personally connects you to the ocean?
I have been fascinated by the ocean and its inhabitants for as long as I can remember. Marine animals are so entertaining, unique, and alien that you just can’t ignore them for long. The strangeness of these animals and their odd similarities to humans make them very interesting to me.
What motivated you to start I Blobfish? And what are some of your goals for the future?
I started I, Blobfish in 2016, but it was not a comic back then and was simply a website on which people could donate to help protect endangered marine species. It became a comic around two years ago when I was inspired by webcomic artists such as Nick Seluk, Nathan Pyle, and Jimmy Craig. Of course, the blobfish (one of my favorite marine animals) became the protagonist.
The goal of I, Blobfish is to raise awareness for ‘ugly’ endangered animals (including the blobfish) because they do not get the attention of “adorable” animals such as pandas and polar bears. Creatures like the blobfish are kind of outsiders… and therefore not much of the public understands the amount of protection needed in order to keep these “ugly” animals alive.
In the future, I would like to keep the cartoony feel of I, Blobfish but partner that aspect of it with education as well; something which I have rarely included in previous comics. I feel that educating people about these animals instead of only showing people that they exist is the next, and most important, step for me.
In your opinion, what’s the key to inspiring young people today in the field of marine science and conservation? How do you use art to reach new audiences?
In order to inspire young people to take a role in protecting marine animals and their habitats, you need to affect them emotionally. Simply saying something like, for instance, “Around 100 million sharks are killed every year” is not likely to do much to a person’s feelings. Sure, they might feel bad for a moment, but then that moment is over and they resume their day-to-day lives. (I sadly admit that, I, too, have done this before.) In short, why would a person want to save sharks if they do not feel for the sharks? Tapping into people’s emotions is the first step to getting them to help.
I chose to use art to spread awareness for endangered animals because mediums like comics are easily distributed, often shared, and are easily uploaded to social media platforms. In addition, comics have the ability to affect almost all people emotionally (often with some cheesy pun or humorous story) and therefore a larger audience will understand the cause.
What do you personally believe is the biggest threat to the world’s marine environments? And why?
I think the largest threat to the ocean is the fact that many people are nervous to change their ways. Maybe they’re shy to be the first in their neighborhood to do so, or maybe they are comfortable the way that they are, but in order to cure any issue – whether overfishing or overpopulation – many people need to become more flexible in their ways. Whether that be by wasting less food, recycling as often as possible, or by boycotting illegal fishing businesses.
How do you spread positive messages to your peers about marine conservation, when we live in an environment today with so much doom and gloom news about the ocean?
By sharing messages about marine conservation through comics! They are already less negative than some other forms of communicating these facts.
In addition, when I do share something negative, I usually end it with some news about how that problem is being fixed.
I’m careful though when talking about environmental successes, because if people think we’ve solved an issue, then they may not understand that they need to help to fix the issue (instead of thinking that it has already been taken care of.)
What would you say is the most important skill for any student to develop in this field (marine science) to be successful?
Honestly, there are many skills that would be useful in order to develop in the field of marine science. Which ones are most important depends on what type of marine science a person is interested in. Therefore, instead of describing a single skill, I would say that passion is what will get someone far in the field of marine science (or in any field, actually.)
What’s one everyday thing that you believe any individual (student or adult) could do better to conserve the marine environment?
In our current world, one important thing people could do to conserve the marine environment is reuse objects such as plastic bags, water bottles, and utensils as much as possible. All trash, especially plastic waste, has a horrible effect on the ocean. People should also share their knowledge about the marine environment with others, because the more people participate in a movement, the greater chance our planet has of recovering from our impact.
Check out more of Harry’s incredible comics, and support his work to save the ocean at: https://www.iblobfish2016.com/
How I Sea is a new effort by The TerraMar Project to dive into the minds of our global ocean community. We highlight opinions on conservation issues such as: marine pollution, overfishing, drilling, climate change, marine protected areas, scientific discoveries, and much more. Stay tuned for more.
Sign up today to become a citizen of our global ocean community and sign up for your very own passport to the world’s ocean by visiting us at: www.theterramarproject.org