This article explores the popularity of fish and wildlife in nautical art.


Fish art is one of the most popular forms of nautical artwork. Popular works include photographs, illustrations, carvings,  synthetic material replicas, Gyotaku, jewelry, and sculpture.


Shellfish art includes crabs, lobsters, shrimp, prawns, clams, oysters, scallops, cockles, and other delicacies. Because of their unique shapes, shellfish are of particular interest to jewelry and craft enthusiasts.

Seashore Creatures

Seashore creatures are often seen in nautical collections. Popular subjects include starfish (sea stars), sand dollars, sea urchins, snails, sea horses, and other life forms. A number of seashore creatures are favored by jewelry and craft enthusiasts because of their symmetrical geometric shapes. Some sea creatures leave behind seashells, which are also popular with nautical artists.


Birds are present in nearly every nautical environment from the arctic to the tropics. Popular nautical bird groups include waterfowl (ducks, geese, and swans), gulls, terns, wading birds, shorebirds (sandpipers and plovers), birds of prey, and seabirds. Birds have been the subjects of artists since pre-historic time.

Marine Mammals

Several groups of marine mammals appear in various forms of nautical artwork. Cetaceans (whales, dolphins, and porpoises) are extremely popular as nautical artists’ subjects. Other marine mammals chosen as subjects include pinnipeds (seals, sea lions, and walruses) as well as manatees.

One of the most unique forms of nautical artwork is known as “scrimshaw”. This specialized artform involves the carving of intricate scenes onto whale teeth and tusks.

The principle of etching teeth, tusks, and bones dates back to pre-historic times. The practice of carving and etching whale teeth and bones increased greatly as commercial whaling reached its peak during the colonial era. Although most commercial whaling has ceased, thousands of scrimshaw artifacts appear in collections of nautical artwork.