A whale named Hope: Beautiful NJ sand sculpture raises awareness on Ventnor Beach

"Let's save the species for them, the children," the artist said.

ByTom Kretschmer WPVI logo
Wednesday, April 5, 2023
A whale named Hope: NJ sand sculpture raises awareness in Ventnor
A whale named Hope: NJ sand sculpture raises awareness in Ventnor

VENTNOR, New Jersey (WPVI) -- John Gowdy has been a lifeguard along the Jersey shore for decades and doesn't recall ever seeing a whale in the ocean.

But in January, after another 30-foot humpback washed ashore near Atlantic City, he decided to do something to help bring awareness to the issue affecting his beloved beaches.

READ | Sea Isle City residents express concern over rising number of dolphin strandings, deaths

Many are asking themselves, why have so many whales washed ashore in recent months?

According to CNN, there have been several humpback whale deaths that have alarmed citizens and officials along the east coast. So far in 2023, there have been 10 humpback whale deaths along the coast.

So, Gowdy began creating a 48-foot life-size sculpture of a humpback whale and its offspring.

As he was working, a little girl came up to him and named the whale, Hope.

"I said, 'What a great name.' Her little brother named the little whale Apple. So, we have Hope and Apple," he said while putting the finishing touches on his sculpture.

"The children realize these whales are endangered, and the children will be around a lot longer than us. Let's save the species for them, the children," he continued.

The 48-foot true-to-scale sculpture of the humpback whale took Gowdy weeks to complete. It's located near Suffolk Avenue on the beach in Ventnor, New Jersey.

He says he made it not far from where two humpback whales are buried after washing ashore in January this year.

It's a beautiful piece of art that also doubled as center stage for a big rally, memorial, and protest where concerned community members came together to voice their concerns and ask questions.

Singer and songwriter Johnny Higbee performed his song "Save the Whales" atop the sand sculpture at the rally.

"It's very sad," he said. "We've grown up on the beaches and we've never seen whales washed up like this. It's never happened like this before. It breaks our heart."

"Just imagine how many whales are dead and not washing up," Gowdy added.

He wants people who see his creation to take notice, ask questions, speak to their legislators and hopefully find out why so many have washed ashore.

"This is why we're doing this project. To call attention to this problem and why these beautiful mammals are dying in our ocean. And to stop it from happening," he said.

To find out more about Gowdy, you can visit his website