Mother Ocean: Fish Sentience and the Power of Change

Mother Ocean: Fish Sentience and the Power of Change

When I first met Chloe Moers through her non-profit organization, Empathy for All Animals, I greeted a vibrant spirit who radiates love and compassion for all. When she asked if I'd enjoy illustrating the cover of her upcoming book, it felt like a dream project, and it certainly was.

Mother Ocean: Fish Sentience and the Power of Change is a breathtaking journey through the plight of our oceans while taking readers on a personal and spiritual experience with sea dwellers.

Visit Empathy for All Animals to read the book, a powerful call for change.

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The book advocates for protecting the oceans through an empathetic approach, seeing sea life as feeling beings who deserve to live on their own accord, free from human-caused suffering and slaughter. Chapters illuminate the shocking reality of sea-use industries, explaining how fish feel pain and taking readers on a personal journey to confront their own relationship with the ocean.

Mother Ocean calls for individual action and awakening to the wild beauty of our planet, over 70% of which is covered with surface water, and 96% of that is ocean.

This post is the first of a series celebrating the oceans we are all a part of, introducing the vital book Mother Ocean and accompanying cover artwork. Those of us who've had the honor of feeling the ocean know how soothing the waves and tides are, and how inspiring it is to observe the sea in different lights. Sea life enchants us with mystery, vibrant color and movement.

Today's story introduces Mother Ocean and the process behind making the art.

A sense of enchantment and connection is what I aimed to embody in the cover art. Much of its creation took place while journeying up to Scotland, meeting the North Sea on the eastern coast, and finally the Atlantic ocean on the western coast. It felt symbolic to send off the final artwork surrounded by Scotland's lochs and waters of the Isle of Skye.

Changing colors on the Isle of Skye.
Fading light over the water.
On the way to Glasgow.
One of the many fish farms we passed in Scotland's lochs; fish farms are discussed in the book. Their conditions are shocking for the fish and detrimental to our health.

Excerpts from Mother Ocean

The following are excerpts from individual chapters, shared with permission from the author Chloe Moers. References are cited in the book.

Mother Ocean: Fish Sentience and the Power of Change | Empathy for Animals
Mother Ocean takes you on a journey of learning through scientific knowledge and research studies as well as empathetic and heart-centered perspectives and stories.The surface of Earth is 70% ocean, containing over 2 million species! The ocean protects, provides, and supports countless lives, but sh…

The Importance of the Oceans

"The ocean provides the majority of our oxygen, produced by phytoplankton using photosynthesis. How much oxygen exactly? “The ocean produces over half of the world's oxygen and absorbs 50 times more carbon dioxide than our atmosphere.” This carbon dioxide absorption is essential for temperature regulation and global balance. Our weather is regulated to create the perfect conditions for an abundance of life because “the ocean transports heat from the equator to the poles, regulating our climate and weather patterns.”"

How Much are Humans Really Damaging the Oceans?

"Humans kill more fish than all land animals killed for food combined. “The number of individual wild fish killed each year is estimated between 0.97-2.74 trillion (based on FAO tonnage statistics combined with estimated mean weights of fish species). The FAO numbers do not include illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing, nor discarded fish.” Most likely, this number could even be double.

Fishing takes the life of billions of pounds of unintended ocean victims yearly in addition to their intended victims. This is because the fishing industry, like most industries, is based on profit and efficiency- not empathy and carefulness.

Does it get any worse? Humans could potentially eradicate fish life entirely. “A study from an international team of ecologists and economists have predicted that by 2048 we could see completely fishless oceans. The cause: disappearance of species due to overfishing, pollution, habitat loss and climate change.”"

An Excerpt on Bycatch

"Some companies may also claim that they avoid taking the lives of unintended sea animals, but bycatch is extremely common in the fishing industry and hard to avoid in a cost-efficient way for large fishing vessels. Bycatch is when other creatures, besides the desired victims, are caught by nets- resulting in injury or death. This can include whales, dolphins,sea turtles, and more. For every pound of shrimp stolen from the ocean, up to 20 pounds of bycatch occurs."

What I appreciate most about the book is its balance of scientific evidence with emotional connection.

Chloe invites us to not only think about the consequences of our actions on all life, but feel with them.

In one chapter, Harmony of Life, readers are presented with a journey into the Ocean through a harmonious film Chloe created, shared here:

The accompanying text reads:

"For this page, I would like for you to take the time to watch a video I created. I think the beauty of life is best experienced by going out into nature and integrating with her being, but if you do not have access to the wonders of the ocean in person at this moment then this video can assist in sharing the beauty of life underwater."


"Mother Ocean is our home. She provides us with clean air and strong breath. She regulates our weather and her plant life keeps us safe and nourishes the animal beings in her care. Her energy and reach are vast, covering Earth farther than the eyes can see. The majority of the surface of Earth is Ocean, so why do we speak so much of Mother Earth and so little of Mother Ocean?

She has the power to take life and to be a home and shelter to provide it. The beauty of life is found in every color, shape, size, and way within her.

The largest of our beings live in the ocean depths; large and blue gentle giants."

Written by Chloe Moers, excerpts from Mother Ocean.

The final sketch proposed for Mother Ocean

I had the honor of reading the book ahead of creating the cover, so I considered many of the deeper messages shared. Chloe illustrated a scene from a dream, in which she swam with a blue whale, and this is a moving part of the book which I share more about in my notes on the concept below.

Concept of the Cover

The story begins with a circle, the sacred circle of life. What is our place in the sacred circle? To love, to protect, to behold the wonder of Mother Nature. This artwork is created to honor the source of life on Earth, to honor Ocean and all the beings who flow in the dance of energy, interconnected and woven in layers of time and space.

This art has strived to embody the powerful balance of emotion and science illuminated in the manuscript. Depicted and honored here are many of the species who directly suffer as a result of human actions. They are layered together in a series of circles; the innermost feature tiny circles and shapes to represent microorganisms (and / or krill, tbd), aquatic plants, and larger animal sea-life. Among them are the yellow-finned tuna, sea turtles, octopus, hammer-head shark, Mama dolphin and child, lobster, shrimp, salmon, and jellyfish.

Rising up through the circle is a great beauty, a blue whale, in reference to the story in the book, and on either side of her are a tiger shark and human. Swirling around them and throughout the whole scene is a sense of movement. The circle around the human and part of the whale is placement of overlays and illustrated effects that will become apparent, designed to bring attention to our shared bond. Human, who is part of the circle yet often does not act so.

We float there, tiny among our peers, with a great power in our hands. To change.

We are given this sacred circle before our eyes, in the shape of O to represent Ocean. Oxygen. Endless circle. Take one being out, and the entire circle is no more. The circle is strongest when we dive through and see all the layers that create the circle. The ocean is so vast, so grand, nearly overwhelming for us humans to comprehend. We even fear her depths. Here in this scene, we are given a portrait of the ocean ecosystem with us included in the vision. My focus is to emphasize wonder, beauty and the elegance of Nature.


Overall my goal was to create a visual poem, to reflect the moving sentiment of the book and also simply stand as a portrait of Mother Ocean, which may also exist as an artwork without the text. This is a tribute to her, honoring her.

Purchase the book here to learn what the sea industries try to hide, to support sealife and the amazing work of Empathy for All Animals.
Thank you Chloe, for the gift of this collaboration and the wisdom you share.
A shell heart offering created on the Isle of Skye, during the last stages of the project.

Written by Karla Sanders @karlasandersart | Photos by Steven Tiller @steventiller