Event celebrates The Map’s completion


Beachside art showcases marine life in the Shores’ waters

It wasn’t until after Mary Coakley and others completed their efforts to get a new restroom at La Jolla Shores in June 2005, that they got the idea for a far bigger and much more ambitious project.

Coakley credits plumber Marc Simpson for first imagining a huge pathway, with embedded images of fish and other wildlife found in La Jolla Shores Underwater Park and Marine Reserve to adorn and crown Kellogg Park.

Now known as “The Map,” the project was unveiled at a ribbon-cutting ceremony at 12:30 p.m. today next to the children’s playground at the beach end of Vallecitos.

“It had always been his dream to pull the underwater park and ecological reserve into the park, to work with Scripps Institution of Oceanography and Birch Aquarium to help educate children and the general public about ocean preservation and conservation,” community activist Coakley said.

Lifelike images

More than three years and $300,000 in the making, The Map is a 64-foot-long by 30- to 50-footwide pathway containing more than 50 realistic, life-sized embedded bronze fish and invertebrates, dive flags and icons at the entry point to the city’s premier dive site.

It’s a portion of an evolving plan proposed by The Friends of Kellogg Park to beautify the park while promoting conservation of indigenous ocean species.

Representatives of the Sycuan Band of the Kumeyaay Nation, a major donor for the project, and La Jolla oceanographer Dr. Walter Munk will be among dignitaries participating in the dedication.

“We actually produced the map here, locating where the different habitats were and what animals were associated with those habitats,” said Ed Parnell, Scripps research scientist. “We were interested in promoting conservation and the condition of the beaches in general. It’s great to reach the children, the next generation.”

Details, details

Artist D. Lynn Reeves who, along with Rick Sparhawk articulated The Map’s concept, said it was a painfully slow undertaking but a labor of love.

“We were concerned it would be used as a teaching tool, so we did a stylized representation of each fish on a flat piece of sculpture without high relief, because there would be people walking on it,” he said. “The whole process of realistically coloring them (fish) was experimental, using fade-resistant automotive paint that would settle in low spots so people wouldn’t walk on these fish and wear them down.”

Reeves noted the products used in crafting The Map weren’t unique, but they were used in a unique way. “We had no case history to go back to,” he said.

Louis Guassac, executive director for the Kumeyaay-Digueno land conservancy, said The Map will have special symbolic significance for local Indian tribes.”

The Kumeyaay nation tribes are not just mountain but desert and ocean Indians, too, he said.

“We wanted to educate people about who we are as a people, and our relationship to the ocean, which we lived near for thousands of years. We saw this as a promising opportunity to finally acknowledge our people’s lifestyle on the ocean, in such a way that the (greater) community embraced it.”