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Database Provider


Sea Walls


3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th, 7th, 8th


Science, Biology, Visual and Performing Arts

Resource Type

  • Artwork

Regional Focus

Global, North America, United States, USA - West, California

"Weight of the World"

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  • This environmental mural by Abi Mustapha, located in Santa Cruz, 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.

This resource addresses the listed standards. To fully meet standards, search for more related resources.

  • Visual & Performing Arts
    • Visual Arts: Standard 7 - Perceiving and analyzing products.
      • 1.5.8.Re7a: Explain how a person's aesthetic choices are influenced by culture and environment, and how they impact the way in which visual messages are perceived and conveyed.
      • 1.5.8.Re7b: Compare and contrast cultural and social contexts of visual arts and how they influence ideas and emotions.
    • Visual Arts: Standard 8 - Interpreting intent and meaning.
      • 1.5.5.Re8a: Interpret ideas and mood in artworks by analyzing form, structure, context, subject, and visual elements.
  • Science
    • 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.
  • Related Resources


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