Cetacean, which simply means large sea creature, refers to the group of marine mammals that include all species of whales, dolphins and porpoises.

According to the World Wildlife Fund, there are more than 80 species of cetaceans (from the great whale to the bottlenose dolphin). The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species identifies that eight of the 13 whale species are endangered, including: the Sei Whale, Blue Whale, Fin Whale, North Atlantic Right Whale, Narwhal, Sperm Whale, and Indo-Pacific Humpbacked Dolphin.

Regardless of countless attempts at protection – cetacean species continue to be threatened, with some close to extinction – mostly at the hands of humans (whether it be for scientific purposes and still for commercial use in other countries). There are countless other threats – ocean pollution and toxins, accidental capture from commercial fishing, boat strikes, climate change, noise pollution and habitat loss.

A few interesting facts I learned about whales, dolphins and porpoises:

  • Cetaceans are classified into two groups: toothed and baleen whales.
  • Toothed whales tend to live in groups (quite like bats) and use echolocation/sonar to detect objects in their environment. Some species have identifiable echos/calls. Various groups of Orcas (killer whales) have a different dialect/accent – just like humans.
  • While Baleen whales (or mysticetes) eat very small, low-on-the-food-chain sea life – they themselves are very large and eat large quantities at once. The blue whale (the largest animal on earth) can weigh up to 150 tons!

Read more information about cetaceans here. To find out more about how to help the world’s endangered and threatened cetaceans, please visit Save Our Species, The Marine Mammal Foundation and The National Marine Mammal Foundation.



Step 1: Concept

For the cetacean pattern, I wanted to create something that incorporated the many species of whales that are endangered. I chose to use several of their silhouettes, tails and figures.

Step 2: Design – Pattern

I struggled quite a bit with this pattern – in fact, the original pattern was a beautiful, scaley ombré sea that was so complicated that I couldn’t see anyone ever actually printing it. I started over and over again, until one night I had an epiphany that I would do a take on a damask pattern using their shapes.

Step 3: Design – Color Selection

While I originally wanted to do cobalt blues, I found a pale teal palette to be the most calming and beautiful. I could really see this being my new duvet cover or a wallpaper in my office!

Step 4: Design – Pattern Illustration

As I mentioned, I have over 20 files of pattern designs based on the whale, but this turned out to be my absolute favorite.