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Sea Walls


3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th, 7th, 8th, 9th, 10th, 11th, 12th, AP® / College


Science, Biology, Art, Social-Emotional Learning

Resource Type

  • Artwork

Regional Focus

Global, North America, United States, USA - West

"Weight of the World"

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  • This environmental mural by Abi Mustapha portrays a whale with an oil refinery on its back, highlighting the ways in which our actions on land impact the oceans and everything that lives there.
  • This mural is part of a series of public artworks that draw attention to marine environmental issues.
Teaching Tips


  • This resource includes an artist statement with more information about the background of the artwork, the colors used, and photographs of the artist creating the mural.
  • The image may inspire students and connect with their passion for animals or the environment.

Additional Prerequisites

  • It may help to locate Santa Cruz on the map in the "Finding this Mural" section, and provide background information on whales in the Santa Cruz area.
  • It is important for students to know what an oil refinery is and about the environmental impacts of the oil industry.


  • This searchable database of photographs showing ocean habitats may help provide background information on these marine habitats and the impact that climate change is having on the plants and animals within them.
  • This interactive map may be useful in learning more about petroleum energy infrastructure and the prevalence and environmental impacts of this energy source.
  • Students may be paired up to select one of the 450+ murals that are a part of the Sea Walls series and can report back to the class on the focus and impact of the chosen mural.
  • Put students in groups and ask them to compare artist's methods of addressing environmental issues, also using this mural depicting threatened marine mammals or this watercolor and pencil piece illustrating ocean acidification's impact on marine species.
  • Ask students to create their own piece of art depicting the environmental impacts of energy usage, ocean pollution, or their own ideas about conservation.
Scientist Notes
This website presents a mural on a building in California to bring awareness about "coastal development and climate change" to the community. The mural program is designed to educate and raise public awareness of critical environmental issues through art. This resource would be a great addition to a classroom discussing ocean pollution, conservation, and climate change. This resource is recommended for teaching.
  • Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS)
    • ESS3: Earth and Human Activity
      • 4-ESS3-1 Obtain and combine information to describe that energy and fuels are derived from natural resources and that their uses affect the environment.
  • National Core Arts Standards
    • Visual Arts: Standard 6 - Convey meaning through the presentation of artistic work.
      • VA:Pr6.1.Ia Analyze and describe the impact that an exhibition or collection has on personal awareness of social, cultural, or political beliefs and understandings.
    • Visual Arts: Standard 7 - Perceive and analyze artistic work.
      • VA:Re7.1.7a Explain how the method of display, the location, and the experience of an artwork influence how it is perceived and valued.
      • VA:Re7.2.IIa Evaluate the effectiveness of an image or images to influence ideas, feelings, and behaviors of specific audiences.
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