Giant Dolphin Turn Heads in Tavernier

New Jersey artist paints huge mahi-mahi mural at Florida Keys marina.

Sea life artist David Dunleavy has completed a gargantuan "Dolphin Rodeo" mural on the sides of two metal boat barns in the Florida Keys.

Dunleavy's large-scale creation, featuring a bull and cow dolphin leaping to feed on flying fish, stretches 252 feet wide and 32 feet high. The New Jersey-based artist says they are the largest dolphin (also known as mahi-mahi or dorado) ever painted in the world.

Not to be confused with dolphin the mammal, dolphin fish are popular gamefish found off the Florida Keys. They delight anglers with their bold colors, ability to leap at the end of fishing lines, and taste as lunch and dinner entrées.

Dunleavy worked seven to eight hours per day for 23 days to create the vibrant illustration at Tavernier Creek Marina, using more than 400 gallons of paint. The marina's location just off the Florida Keys Overseas Highway ensures the mural’s high visibility for southbound motorists.

It is the 62nd in a series of outdoor sea life murals Dunleavy has painted in the U.S., Bahamas and Australia. It is his fourth mural in the Keys and has become the largest outdoor artwork ever created in the island chain.

"Islamorada is the sportfishing capital of the world and there is no better location for this mural," Dunleavy said. "I want to inspire people to put down their smart phones, go out and experience sea life, whether they go fishing, paddle boarding or scuba diving.

"It's all about teaching people about conservation and protecting our oceans for future generations," he added.

The artwork is scheduled to be dedicated during the Nick Sheahan Dolphin Rodeo Tournament set for May 4-6, 2016, at Tavernier Creek Marina. Sherwin Williams donated some of the paint and Sunbelt Rentals provided the hydraulic lift Dunleavy used to complete the mural.

The New Jersey worked seven to eight hours each day for 23 days to paint his 62nd larger-than-life SeaLife Mural. FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY (Andy Newman/Florida Keys News Bureau/HO)

Artist David Dunleavy celebrates in front of his gargantuan "Dolphin Rodeo" mural at Tavernier Creek Marina.Courtesy Andy Newman