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Bud Bottoms, Sculptor and Environmental Activist

| Mark J. Palmer and Mary Jo Rice
Topics: Dolphins, Whales

Bud Bottoms died recently, a beloved fixture in Santa Barbara, California, who will be sorely missed by his many friends, admirers, our environmental community, and those who appreciated his art across the globe.

Bottoms had a tremendous late-in-life career as a sculptor and caster of amazing bronze statues, including his favorite subject -- dolphins.  One of Santa Barbara’s treasures is his bronze dolphin family fountain, which dominates the streets that converge on Stearns Wharf in the downtown area.  The dolphins are so popular that there are now Bud Bottoms dolphin fountains found in Santa Barbara’s sister cities: Puerto Vallarta in Mexico, Toba City in Japan, and Dingle in Ireland.  

Bud became active with the International Marine Mammal Project starting in 1988, working with our team on behalf of dolphins.  He also created a commemorative dolphin sculpture that IMMP presented to Tony O’Reilly, CEO of Heinz, for signing on Starkist, the largest and first tuna company in the world to become Dolphin Safe.  Later, Bud generously made possible our giving of his small bronze dolphin sculptures as awards to former Senator Barbara Boxer and others in our community who made enormous contributions to whale and dolphin conservation.

Mary Jo Rice, Associate Director of IMMP, says:  “Bud was the uncle I always wanted.  I loved our times together. One of my favorite being waves crashing on a Santa Barbara beach teeming with wildlife as he shared Chumash creation tales.” 

"Other pure Bud moments were working side-by-side at our Free Willy/Keiko 20th anniversary celebration weekend in Hollywood and at numerous other IMMP events over the years,” Rice added.  “Bud’s kindness, heartful presence, rich storytelling, and animated humor always warmed the room.  Bud channeled his wild creativity and passion for marine mammal protection through his decades of environmental activism, his extraordinary sculptures, devastating political cartoons, and the delightful children’s books he wrote and illustrated about nature and ethics.”

“Happy trails to Uncle Bud.  The legacy he cast in cartoons, activism, books, and bronze is both oceanic and indelible,” Rice concluded.

Bud was also very active in the community of Santa Barbara, often working with members of the Chumash Indian tribe and speaking at town meetings and events, especially for coastal protection.  

Bud coined the name of the activist group, “Get Oil Out” or GOO, following the devastating 1969 Santa Barbara oil spill.  The organization continues to work to curtail offshore oil drilling along the California coast to protect marine life. Bud also helped establish the original Earth Day celebration in 1970.

IMMP extends its deepest condolences to Bud’s wife and family.  Bud inspired us, and he is irreplaceable.