Isle of Wight receives first marine wildlife mural by renowned street artist ATM

Isle of Wight receives first marine wildlife mural by renowned street artist ATM

© Siân Addison

The mural is one of two that will be painted on the island as part of Hampshire & Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust’s marine project, Secrets of the Solent.

Secrets of the Solent has commissioned artist ATM to paint a series of six marine-themed artworks at various locations around the Solent to raise awareness of the diversity of life hidden beneath the waves. The latest mural, a harbour seal, is situated on a wall next to the Lord Louis Library in Newport, the county town of the island.

Artist ATM is well-known for his iconic wildlife street art. This, his third artwork of the series, took four days to paint freehand with acrylics and the process was frequently interrupted by inclement weather. The harbour seal was chosen by the local community, who were asked to vote for their favourite Solent species. Participants were given a list of six animals to choose from, with the harbour seal being the overwhelming winner.

Aiming to highlight the charismatic creatures found close to our coasts, artist ATM says:

“The process of painting the mural was challenging due to intermittent heavy rain, however I am very pleased with the finished result and hope the people of Newport are too. The harbour seal is a captivating animal and I hope when people see it, they are inspired to think more about the diversity of life hidden beneath the waves and the importance of protecting vital habitats within the Solent.”

Dr Tim Ferrero, Senior Marine Biologist at Hampshire & Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust says:

“The harbour seal (Phoca vitulina) is surely one of our most charismatic marine wildlife species. The Solent is home to a small resident breeding population and the animals can be spotted all over the region, along with the occasional visiting grey seal. As marine predators, seals are a good indicator species for the health of a marine ecosystem as their abundance is influenced by many factors, including prey availability and distribution, disease, competition with other species, and human disturbance. Having our mural in the centre of Newport is a fantastic way to raise awareness of our region’s marine mammals and I really hope that people will come away with the knowledge that the Solent, our harbours and our seas are incredibly important for wildlife.”

Harbour seals are found in UK waters, including the Solent, its harbours and estuaries, where they are often seen hauled out on sandbanks and beaches. When out of the water, they sometimes hold their body in a curved banana position, with their head and tail both in the air at the same time. Like grey seals, harbour seals feed on fish, but also eat squid, whelks, crabs and mussels. Their pups are born during the summer and can swim when they are only a few hours old!

Secrets of the Solent hope the mural will become a landmark in Newport and inspire visitors to learn more about the wildlife living in the waters around the island. The project, which is supported by the National Lottery Heritage Fund, works to celebrate and raise awareness of Solent’s diverse marine environment.