MAALAEA, Maui, HI – Visitors to Keawakapu Beach on the morning of Saturday, August 8 enjoyed quite a treat: an impressive and widely-varied array of dolphins, all competing for honors in Pacific Whale Foundation’s annual Wild Dolphin Sand Sculpture Contest. Thirty-nine contestants turned out for the contest this year, working for two hours,, as individuals or in groups to craft sculptures that ranged from jaw-droppingly realistic to crowd-pleasingly amusing and creative. Six judges had a very hard time selecting winners in five categories from amongst the impressive sculptures. A large and enthusiastic crowd of onlookers joined the judges in inspecting and applauding the sculptures and cheered on the winners as they were announced in a ceremony on the beach.
The prize for “Best Overall Entry” by a Family or Group went to the Iles family of Silverdale, Washington. Barry, Lori, Brigit, and Amby sculpted a dolphin riding a wave on a Pacific Whale Foundation surfboard, accompanied by a sea turtle. “We were all so impressed by the craftsmanship, detail, and creativity involved in this sculpture,” said Pacific Whale Foundation Outreach Coordinator and judge Jessica Niles. “All of the sculptures were fantastic, but this one definitely stood out.”
The prize for “Best Individual or Group Entry for Children (ages 12 and under)” went to Jillian Ranks of Kihei. Jillian, age 11, worked diligently for two hours on her beautiful sculpture of a mother dolphin and calf.
“Most Realistic Dolphin” went to a group consisting of members of the Pushckor and Alexander families of Kihei, including Ben (5), Havanna (4), and Sky (5). The group put together a truly impressive composition with a mother dolphin and calf in the midst of a heart-shaped mound, decorated with swirling, abstract waves.
“Most Creative Entry” went to a group of 5 ambitious keiki from the Rupenthal and Thomas families of Wailea. They crafted a large family of sea turtles beneath a looming volcano. When the judges and spectators gathered to inspect the sculpture, the volcano was made to “erupt” for the delighted crowd.
Finally, the prize for “Funniest Entry” went to the Danovich family of Kihei for their “Golfing Dolphin.” Young golf enthusiast Ryan (age 7) contributed his equipment to a fanciful sculpture of a dolphin putting towards a green.
All winners received dolphin-themed prizes from Pacific Whale Foundation’s Ocean Store. The winners of the “Best Overall” category also received gift certificates for Pacific Whale Foundation’s Wild Dolphin Encounter cruise. All participants received full-color dolphin posters.
The purpose of this annual event is to raise awareness about the wild dolphins found in the sea around Maui County. “We also like to take the opportunity each year to draw awareness to the fact that in 2002, a Maui County bill was passed banning the public display of captive whales and dolphins,” said Pacific Whale Foundation conservation director Brooke Porter. “We’re proud of the fact that Maui’s dolphins live wild and free.”