Responsible Travel with Archipelago Choice

Responsible Travel – Part 1

A message from a good friend of Archipelago Choice 

Hi, I’m Les Gallagher and I create artwork that strives to capture the natural beauty of oceanic marine life. People care about what they see, and good artwork is great for engaging, stimulating and inspiring more public interest in ocean habitats. My works have been featured in a variety of publications aimed at promoting marine science, environmental education and increasing ocean awareness.

I have resided in the beautiful Azores Islands for more than 30 years, navigating between the offshore seamounts as a charter captain during the summer months and making multiple collaborations with IMAR-DOP, University of the Azores as a scientific illustrator during the rest of the year. To date, my work has been used to produce more than 150,000 marine life species posters, 13,000 marine life guide books and more than 1,700 fine art prints, but there is still so much more to be done. Now working under the trademark Oceanic® and as part of the Oceanic® Project, we want to expand our workflow and our product range so we can reach more people and especially our younger generations, not just in our own region of the Azores, but in numerous other areas. By offering your support you will be contributing not only to the continued creation of the original artworks, but also to the expansion of our team, the diversification of our products and be enabling some new free distributions of our posters to schools.

Here at the Oceanic® Store we like pushing the limits of pigment ink technology on modern 100% cotton fine art papers to create the best possible limited edition archival prints of marine species. The inks we use have longevity ratings of circa 200 years for colour prints and circa 400 years for black and white prints. Oceanic® Limited Edition Archival Prints are shipped worldwide and project a deep respect and appreciation for the natural beauty of oceanic species – they inspire perception and provoke ocean awareness.

Sensations, Perception, Awareness and Empathy in the Open Ocean

Venturing into the open ocean usually provides us with a multi sensorial experience into a remote and often hidden ecosystem. With time and practice we learn to attune our focus and become more receptive to our surrounds. It is when we think about our sensations and notably about what we can see that we reach a state of perception. On learning how to recognise beauty in nature we become appreciative, we give value to further understanding and begin to care more about its existence – we become aware. However, encounters with wild animals in the open ocean are often brief and it is difficult take in all the details. Art strives to capture these moments and helps us to reflect upon our relationship with the natural world.

We find it easy to care for the existence of wild mammals on land because their biology and habitats have similarities to our own. They communicate, look after their young and we can usually observe or visualise them in their habitats. We recognise their socialising, their playfulness and their suffering. Most are easy to study, film, photograph, paint and portray so it is relatively easy to inspire awareness and empathy as to their existence.

However, animals in the open ocean (with exception of marine mammals) are much more remote and unfamiliar to us. Their biology is more distant from our own making it difficult for us to understand, relate to or appreciate their existence. Many ocean species are fast moving and are difficult to study under limited sub-surface light conditions. It is often difficult to perceive the details of their immense but often obscure beauty and create the images that can be used to inspire people to care and feel empathy for their existence.

The seafood industries have played a major role in dominating our perception of many ocean species by portraying them simply as being good looking food. The images presented to us on a daily basis via our supermarkets, recipe books and other media do not show the natural beauty of live healthy animals for a reason, the images are not intended to inspire our empathy.

Scientists can find it difficult to reach the public with the issues facing our oceans because as intellectuals they tend to think and communicate verbally whereas the majority of our public tend to be more receptive to visual stimulation. Most effective marketing techniques will use images of beauty or intrigue to engage the audience before delivering the subject matter. We know that Art can be used effectively to bridge the gap between the communication of science and public receptiveness but when it comes to our oceans there is not a lot of art to choose from for reasons already given.

The irony is that wild marine animals in our ocean habitats are so extraordinarily beautiful, yet relatively few of us get to see them alive in all their splendour. Lifting a wild healthy fish from the water to observe it in good light is an extraordinary experience. The colours, structures, textures, transparencies and radiance are so incredibly beautiful – a result of 60 million years of evolution with a design more efficient and more sustainable than anything ever built by mankind. Not even our best luxury car can come close. I often wonder how much is spent annually on the marketing of just one unhealthy product like cola and how this compares with what is spent annually on the marketing for the survival of ocean habitats that are vital to our own existence?

Our distant biology, our general perception of seafood, a lack of demand for good images and the fact that so few people spend time in the open ocean where they can study, perceive and then create the necessary images may account for our failure to reach our public more effectively during a time of mounting concern for our oceans. Our understanding of the ocean is essential but may be likened to a foreign language that very few of us have even begun to understand.

Find our more about Les Gallagher and the Azores – Oceanic Centre

Today we are launching a new initiative and asking for help to create and distribute a new poster “OCEAN GIANTS OF PORTUGAL” to every school in Portugal (+/- 3000 schools for kids 10-17 years) in favour of stimulating more ocean awareness and more receptiveness toward ocean literacy amongst youngsters.

I hope you can help


Ian and Les