By Jeanne Donohue
If you’ve driven into Stone Harbor recently, you’ve no doubt noticed renowned marine artist David Dunleavy painting his 61st endangered-species mural on the wall of Stone Harbor Marina.
Working under the motto, “Making a difference one marine mural at a time,” Dunleavy battled heat and rain to complete his latest work. Dunleavy hopes the 35-by-110-foot mural – featuring larger-than-life blue marlins, mahimahi and yellowfin tuna in their natural habitat – raises awareness for species that live in the open sea. The vividly colored creatures are frolicking on a sunrise background, with thunderhead clouds overhead.
Stone Harbor Marina, at 1116 Stone Harbor Blvd., has become the community's newest landmark, with Dunleavy’s marlin mural in a location that can’t be missed. Passersby enjoyed watching Dunleavy’s awe-inspiring progress – he painted the mural freehand, without using grids some other muralists use, marina owner Tom Russell said. The blue marlins measure 32 feet long and look lifelike, as Dunleavy captured a moment of strike with mahimahi. Dunleavy, 42, of Cape May Court House, said he expected to use more than 100 gallons of brilliant blues, greens, yellows and other paint colors, plus a clear coat to protect the mural.
The appreciation for his conservation art in South Jersey has been no less than phenomenal, Dunleavy said. He is very excited about his latest mural and the positive attention it brings to the marina. He planned to complete it the week of Aug. 20, weather permitting. For the first time, Dunleavy said, heat forced him to stop working some days, as temperatures reached 110 degrees against the side of the building when the afternoon sun hit it.
Dunleavy uses an arsenal of airless sprayers, autoguns, airbrushes and regular old paint brushes – not to mention raw talent – in his murals.
“I have completed 60 projects worldwide in 20 years,” he says. “This 61st mural has excellent exposure at the marina and I’m extra energized to dive in to start painting each day. As a scuba diver and angler, I will take all the inspiration and beauty from local fishing and diving experiences and paint it on the wall for people to enjoy for many years to come.”
Russell welcomed the public stopping by to take pictures of the mural as it developed – and also to enjoy the updated marina. “We are very excited to have Dunleavy here painting live and taking the time to talk to the customers about the environment and sharing ocean experiences,” he says. “Dunleavy’s Marlin Mural has amazing details, real-to-life, and will be seen by hundreds of thousands people yearly.”
While most of Dunleavy’s endangered-species murals can be seen at the Jersey Shore, Pennsylvania and South Florida (including the History of Diving Museum in Islamorada in the Florida Keys), he also has murals in the Bahamas and Australia. His art and conservation commitment have been praised by divers, anglers and world-renowned explorer Jean-Michel Cousteau. Dunleavy and Cousteau partnered with the Oceans For Youth Foundation in 2002 to bring environmental-awareness programs and materials to children of all ages.
Find out more about Dunleavy at dunleavyart.com or daviddunleavy.com.
Jeanne Donohue was a fulltime newspaper reporter for 15 years, including stints with the Washington Times and Press of Atlantic City, before becoming a freelance writer. When she’s not writing, the Dennis Township resident is most likely shuttling her three children around to activities.