Colored pencil and water soluble graphite

Bowhead whales eat mostly zooplankton, especially tiny copepods that they strain from the water, up to 10,000 in one mouthful! I was playing around with scale (in reality copepods are barely visible to the naked eye and whales of course are enormous), ways to draw copepods, and the idea of life under the ice. Different elements of this little sketch might eventually become their own pieces, but this was just a fun way to get down some ideas. The pile of tiny copepods at the bottom of the paper is in reference to the fact that some copepods essentially hibernate in big clusters in very deep water over the winter and live off oil reserves in their bodies. I was lucky enough to get to look at some live copepods under a microscope the other day thanks to Dr. Carin Ashjian, so now I’m experimenting with different ways of portraying them.

About The Author

Chelsea Clarke

Chelsea is an artist working on Cape Cod. She holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Printmaking and Drawing from Maine College of Art. She will be making daily drawings based on her daily experiences while also developing imagery for a larger body of finished prints.

6 Responses

  1. Michael Mangalo

    Wow! I think it’s really cool how with just a piece of paper, a coloured pencil, and graphite, you can show the similarities between two creatures that are so drastically different in size! What exactly is a copepod and why did you choose to portray these creatures next to this enormous bowhead whale?

    • Chelsea Clarke

      Thanks for the compliment! A copepod is a type of zooplankton, a tiny sea creature sort of like a very miniature shrimp. I drew it with the bowhead whale because believe it or not tiny copepods are the main source of food for these whales! They strain thousands of them out of the water with their baleen.

      • Michael Mangalo

        Cool! That’s very interesting that they look so alike. So if they eat zooplankton, are zooplankton higher or lower in the food chain than phytoplankton? Do any whales eat phytoplankton?

  2. Coastal Alaskan

    Chelsea – FYI – bowheads do not have callosities – only their cousin the right whale does. You might want to consider that in future drawings. Hope that helps. Nice artwork.

    • Chelsea Clarke

      You’re right, thanks for pointing out my mistake. I was working from a photo labeled bowhead whale, but when I did a little more research I saw that you were right, so it must have been a mislabeled photo. Clearly I didn’t do enough research the first time around!

  3. Chelsea Clarke

    And Michael, to answer your question, zooplankton are higher on the food chain than phytoplankton. Zooplankton are the animal plankton and they eat the phytoplankton, which are the plant plankton that get their food through photosynthesis. Some bigger zooplankton also eat other types of smaller zooplankton (which eat phytoplankton). I’m not aware of any whales eating phytoplankton as a major food source but they probably swallow some along with their other food.


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