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Guy Harvey teams up with Winter the dolphin for marine conservation

To see a Guy Harvey T-shirt on the back of a fisherman has become a sight as familiar in Florida as a seagull diving for lunch off a pier.

Since the early 1990s, Harvey has sold countless pieces of merchandise depicting his drawings of sportfish, sharks and other sea creatures. However, Harvey also is a renowned marine biologist and conservationist.

His resume is hefty, but there is still one experience missing.

"No, I've never painted with a dolphin before,'' Harvey, 54, said during a phone interview from his home in Grand Cayman.

He'll get his chance on Saturday.

During a fundraiser at the Clearwater Marine Aquarium, Harvey will team up with Winter, the Atlantic bottlenose dolphin with an artificial tail, for an art demonstration.

The dolphin hadn't been expected to survive after its tail was caught in a crabline.

Harvey, a 10th-generation Jamaican, holds a doctorate in fisheries management from the University of the West Indies. In 1999, he co-founded the Guy Harvey Research Institute at Nova Southeastern University near Fort Lauderdale.

In January 2008, the lifelong advocate for catch-and-release fishing created the Guy Harvey Ocean Foundation whose mission is to further marine conservation worldwide, focusing particularly on sharks, tuna and billfish.

We caught up with Harvey to see what was on his mind ahead of his Clearwater visit.

When you were a kid, did you sneak away, leaving your mom those notes that said, "Gone fishing?"

I wish I had been able to do that. I went to boarding school in England, so my fishing was concentrated for eight weeks in the summer when I was home. My parents would stay in Jamaica and put my brothers and I on a plane for boarding school. It would be very sad every September.

Are you familiar with Winter?

I'm fascinated by Winter's story, and I'm intrigued to see Winter's tail.

Could you describe your family, and do they like to fish?

I've been married 21 years. I've got a daughter, Jessica, who is 19 and attending University of Edinburgh. My son, Alexander, is 17, and he's in boarding school in British Columbia. As kids, Jessica received 17 junior angler International Game Fishing Association world records. Alexander got six. Two of Jessica's are still standing. They are for a 198-pound yellow fin tuna and a 79-pound amberjack.

Can you give an example of an immediate conservation concern?

Blue fin tuna. In dollars per pound, this species is so valuable to certain groups that there's a possibility it will be over-fished with the threat of extinction.

It's important to recognize conservation as an international effort. Blue fin tuna move from the western Atlantic all the way to the Mediterranean at will. The fishing regulations on the American side are different from the Eastern side. (Blue fin tuna) can be extracted by people at different levels from different regions so there must be agreements internationally in place, on quota systems, to result in a sustainable system.

Can capitalism and conservation work together?

Conservation efforts can't work without money. It takes cash to care.

Did you know early on that you wanted to use your talent toward wildlife art?

Yes. It started when I was a child. Where I grew up in Jamaica had beautiful wildlife. I trained myself by experimentation. Now I try to keep improving by keeping close to nature. Nothing replaces getting close to nature.

Do you have a favorite T-shirt creation?

It's hard to say my favorite. But I will say that the ones I like not always do the best at the cash register.

Do good fishermen give away their secret, favorite spots?

Absolutely. It's our collective responsibility to ensure conservation. To claim a spot as your own in the world is unconscionable.

If you go:

What: Marine wildlife artist Guy Harvey will appear at a fundraiser.

Where: Clearwater Marine Aquarium, 249 Windward Passage, Clearwater.

When: 6 p.m. Saturday.

Details: Harvey and Winter paint a canvas together; an auction; a private dolphin show and a raffle.

Cost: $75.

To register: Call (727) 686-3499 or visit www.SeeWinter.com.

Guy Harvey teams up with Winter the dolphin for marine conservation 12/03/09 [Last modified: Thursday, December 3, 2009 8:30pm]
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