Noel Ashton - A Life of Creativity with Purpose
Noel Ashton Environmental
RESEARCH COMMUNICATION CONSULTING
Welcome to Noel Ashton Environmental, where a synthesis of passion, expertise, experience, project innovation and communication seek to invite a shift in our global environmental mission.
What began as a research project in the 1980's has slowly evolved into a multi-faceted business with a broad and unique capacity.
Focusing primarily on the global cetaceans and the conservation and education around their threatened habitats, Noel Ashton's academic training and experience has enabled him to assist many individuals and organizations who seek to bring about change or find solutions to our present environmental challenges. The uniqueness of his skill set of combining the accuracy and rigors of science, the innovation and range of creative thought processes, and the dedicated approach to excellence of a sculptor and artist has translated in a surprising diversity of collaborations and consultancy applications.
These range from working with Warner Brothers as a cetacean morphological specialist and behavioral dynamicist on Free Willy 4; creating and presenting teacher training manuals with The Two Oceans Education Trust and De Beers Marine; the conceptualization and development of the first Environmental Programme at the Hermanus Whale Festival, and the creation of The Whale Show, funded by the International Fund for Animal Welfare.
These are just a few examples of the applications of his business during the past thirty years. Over time his knowledge, experience and unique insights as pathways to understanding global issues as a dynamic of the human condition have translated into him assisting a wide range of people seeking to find a more caring and sustainable way of being
He has published five books, the latest published by Penguin Random House, and he often appears on television and radio speaking about a wide range of environmental issues.
A morphological map of the Killer whale, Orcinus orca
Where it all began
In 1983, Noel began a collaboration with the renowned cetacean specialist Dr Peter Best of the Mammal Research Institute, University of Pretoria on the illustration of the whales and dolphins of southern Africa. What soon became apparent upon a review of the current literature was that many of the existing illustrations were often highly inaccurate.
In order to address this, and when commissioned to create the first scientific illustration of the endemic Heaviside's dolphin for the Research Division of the International Whaling Commission, Noel developed a new process as a way to generate highly accurate scientific illustrations which has become known as morphological mapping.
To do this, he of brought together the definitive accuracy of vector modelling as a way to describe each species mathematically, and combined this with the most precise methods of rendering and illustration, resulting in Noel's work quickly becoming internationally recognised. This research programme represents a lifetime of dedicated research, and has been the foundation to all his subsequent cetacean work - ranging from consulting, to books and publications, lectures, and education and signage materials.
A good example of his work are many of the acclaimed casts in the Whale Well in the Iziko South African Museum in Cape Town, which were created under his guidance.