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    Online Exhibit at the Maritime Features Fragile Waters: Predator or Prey?

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    Oxnard, CA – The Channel Islands Maritime Museum presents Fragile Waters: Predator or Prey? September 10-December 21, 2020, an exhibit of photographs and original art featuring Great White Sharks. These much feared but little understood creatures are predators throughout the world’s oceans, keeping the populations of other animals in check. Conservation exhibits like this one help us understand the ecology of the species.

    The great white shark has captured the imagination of people around the world. It’s the Earth’s largest predatory fish and has thrived for more than 11 million years with immediate ancestors dating back more than 60 million years! Although this animal is shrouded in myth, the facts about this finned friend are even more fascinating.  We know now that sharks help support a healthy ocean and large sharks are predators that keep populations of other animals in check. Yet human activities are threatening shark populations and putting the health of the entire ecosystem at risk.

    Marine conservation exhibits like this highlight Great Whites and celebrates why sharks are vitally important to our oceans. Sharks are apex predators throughout our oceans and predator-prey interactions are of central importance in ecology, with important implications for population dynamics, management, and conservation. Sharks are top predators in many marine communities, yet few studies have quantified or determined those factors influencing their distribution and hunting behavior. However, studies of large shark foraging behavior are important for understanding the ecology of these species and are particularly important in light of steep declines in their populations and the recent realization that they have important structuring roles in marine communities.

    The great white shark is the only known survivor of the prehistoric genus Carcharodon and one of the world’s apex predators. It is generally accepted that they grow to be 22 to 23 feet long, give birth to live young, and are found predominantly in temperate and tropical seas. Most active during the daytime, their preferred prey are marine mammals (seals, sea lions, elephant seals, dolphins, and fish including other sharks and rays); however, they are highly adaptable and can shift their diet and habitats as needed. Although most people are aware of “Great Whites,” relatively little is actually known about them because of their scarcity and reclusive behavior. As a result, their total population is unknown and even local estimates are questionable; but they are being caught by fishermen in increasing numbers so there may be cause for concern for the species.

    Photographer Ralph Clevenger: Working underwater and in submerged cages, Ralph Clevenger was able to take the dramatic images presented in the Fragile Waters: Predator or Prey exhibit and provide viewers with an up-close view of these magnificent creatures. In Clevenger’s words, his photography better “allows us to understand them and helps to demystify their reputation as ‘ferocious man-eaters.’” Clevenger grew up on the coast of North Africa and has been diving since he was seven years old. He holds BA degrees in zoology and photography and worked as a diver/biologist for the Scripps Institute before becoming a senior faculty member at Brooks Institute. Clevenger has taught for 33 years and traveled throughout the world on photography assignments and for publication. Now based in Santa Barbara, he “pursues his passion for the natural world by specializing in location photography and video projects of eco-travel, environmental portraiture, wildlife, and undersea subjects.”

    Artist Kathy S. Copsey has been a self-taught, freelance artist her entire life with a serious dedication on her art for over 33 years, she has won numerous awards for her artwork, and she has had her artwork spread as far away as two different Kung Fu schools in China and her books as far away as Australia.  Kathy’s current style of painting includes texture (molding paste, pumice gel, gloss gel, etc) to create a contrast between the areas with only paint and areas with texture. She wanted to create more of a 3D look, and she has actually created “Actual 3D” paintings (acrylic paintings with parts of the painting done on multiple pieces of clear acrylic much like how a digital 3D picture can be created), but then she decided to start using texture which she “sculpts” into the shape she wants and then adds paint to enhance her pictures, giving them a unique style and look.  This is also designed to help others share in the passion and love she feels for animals, giving them the sense the animals are real and that they could reach out and touch the texture of an animal’s coat, feathers, or fur.

    About the Channel Islands Maritime Museum

    Info: or (805) 984-6260. Explore galleries full of rare and beautiful maritime paintings dating back to the 1600’s, more than seventy world-class models of historic ships, rotating thematic fine arts exhibitions, and interactive exhibits that encourage visitors to expand their horizons about everything maritime.



    Channel Islands Maritime Museum

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