Sacred Send-off as Archbishop Desmond Tutu’s Vote Launches International Campaign against Whaling

Monday, 24 November, 2008
Cape Town, South Africa
Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu is to cast the first vote in an international campaign to raise awareness of cruelty of whaling, when he launches Sacred Ocean – Global Voices Against the Cruelty of Whaling at the Two Oceans Aquarium in Cape Town, South Africa on Thursday 27 November 2008.

Sacred Ocean is a campaign by the International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW – )  At the heart of the campaign is an iconic 3,4-metre high sculpture named Sacred Ocean by renowned cetacean artist and conservationist Noel Ashton, and which has been given pride of place in the foyer of Cape Town’s Two Oceans Aquarium.

After unveiling the sculpture, Archbishop Tutu will cast the first vote to launch the campaign via a “touch-screen” installation, which also provides the voter with an opportunity to send a “virtual postcard” to three friends urging them to cast their vote.

The campaign also has its own website at

“This is, without doubt, one of the most innovative and interactive campaigns ever devised in the history of the struggle to protect whales from cruel hunts,” said Jason Bell-Leask, Southern African Director for IFAW.

“As we launch Sacred Ocean to celebrate and save whales, we do so knowing the whaling fleets have already set sail for the Southern Ocean Sanctuary to hunt and kill more than 1,000 whales – some of them endangered species – in a sham called ‘scientific whaling’.

“We believe that IFAW’s Sacred Ocean – Global Voices Against the Cruelty of Whaling will send a powerful message that ordinary, and not so ordinary people, are against the appalling and unnecessary cruelty of whaling,” said Bell-Leask.

The Two Oceans Aquarium, which is one of South Africa’s top tourist attractions and which annually welcomes thousands of visitors from around the world to view its exhibits, has provided Sacred Ocean with a permanent home.

“We are extremely honoured to present Sacred Ocean in the Two Oceans Aquarium. Not only does this exhibit allow us to further our mission of fostering love, respect and understanding of our oceans, but it also provides a unique platform for us to gauge public sentiment on the practice of whaling. For the first time ever, people from across the globe will be able to vote for or against whaling and communicate their opinion to the decision-makers” said Dr Patrick Garratt, Managing Director of the Two Oceans Aquarium.  

The Sacred Ocean – Global Voices Against the Cruelty of Whaling was conceived by renowned cetacean artist and conservationist Noel Ashton, as an artistic response to his abhorrence of whaling.

“Every year I am horrified by the sight of whaling ships leaving port in pursuit of whales. I believe that around the world, hundreds of thousands of people are equally horrified, but they have found no voice to speak of their feelings,” said Ashton.

“I would like this sculpture to become their voice.”

Sacred Ocean – Global Voices Against the Cruelty of Whaling goes on public display at the Two Oceans Aquarium from Friday, 28th November 2008. In addition to the sculpture there is a touch screen installation where visitors can register their opinions of whaling, as well as send a “virtual postcard” of themselves and the sculpture to three friends. A display featuring a video with a message from actor Pierce Brosnan, who is IFAW’s global spokesperson against whaling, also features.

Visit to join the campaign.

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Brian Sharp, Emergency Relief Officer, Stranding Coordinator
Manager, Marine Mammal Rescue and Research
Dr. Maria (Masha) N. Vorontsova, Regional Director, Russia & CIS
Regional Director, Russia & CIS
Patrick Ramage, Program Director, Whales
Program Director, Marine Conservation