Cinzah Merkens

All photos: Tre’ Packard/ 2014

Sea Walls promotional posterThis past July, a group of 15 internationally acclaimed contemporary artists converged on the Mexican island of Isla Mujeres to participate in Sea Walls: Murals for Oceans. The week-long mural festival was organized by PangeaSeed to raise awareness for ocean conservation and the protection of whale sharks and manta rays living off the coast of the Yucatan peninsula.

Due to the highly lucrative shark fin trade, chronic overfishing and the growing mega aquarium industry, both of these iconic marine animals are currently listed as vulnerable under the IUCN Red List of Endangered Species.

While on Isla Mujeres, Sea Walls artists were given the chance to swim with and study the sharks and rays, which, in turn, helped inspire their final mural works. The organizers and artists hope that the 14 resulting murals — like the piece above by New Zealander Cinzah Merkens — will inspire both locals and tourists to learn more about the plight of these animals and become more involved in ocean conservation efforts.

Watch this video for a glimpse into the artists' amazing week full of ARTivism. Continue below to see the murals.

Celester Byers

Celeste Byers (USA)

Tatiana Suarez

Tatiana Suarez (USA)

Shark Toof

Shark Toof (USA)


Pelucas (Spain)


Curiot (Mexico)


Smithe (Mexico)

Hannah Stouffer

Hannah Stouffer (USA)

Aaron Glasson x Yoh Nagao

Aaron Glasson (New Zealand) and Yoh Nagao (Japan)


Saner (Mexico)


Nosego (USA)


Meggs (Australia)


Vexta (Australia)

Tristan Eaton

Tristan Eaton (USA)

Mike Popso

Mike Popso (USA)

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Catie Leary is a photo editor at Mother Nature Network. Follow her on Twitter and Google+.

Catie Leary ( @catieleary ) writes about science, travel, animals and the arts.

Whale sharks, manta rays inspire whimsical 'Sea Walls' street murals
Artists converge on Isla Mujeres to participate in a week-long mural festival that benefits ocean conservation and marine animal protection.