Tattoo U

Fascinating accounts from those adorned with sea life tattoos

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I recently got a big, wonderful tattoo because of my love of diving and sea life, my affinity with kelp in particular.
It's of a California harbor seal, two sea horses, and wonderful kelp.

-Dana Nourie



Mine was inspired by a scar on that location on my arm that I wanted to cover up, and my girlfriend suggested a shark (as I have been referred to as "Mark-the-Shark" for a number of years). The scar is shaped like a "T", and as soon as she suggested a shark, I immediately thought of a hammerhead.

-Mark Ball


The allure of rockfish is probably obvious. I wanted a Northwest design to remind me where I'm from, and that whatever the weather, it really should be raining. What put the rockfish over the edge was a Northwest legend about how rockfish got all their great colors. It's a Raven story, and Raven is generally sort of a complicated, unpredictable, tricksy character. But in the rockfish story, he sees a plain, bland fish, thinks it might be a little happier spruced up, and so that's what he does. I guess I hoped carrying a bright little rockfish around would remind me that being nice is reason enough. I'm sure the Hell's Angels have a similar explanation for most of their tats.

-Christian Reilly


I got this tattoo because once a tuna scientist, always a tuna scientist. Also I encouraged the folks in Hawaii to design and use this logo. In addition, when I worked at the tuna commission back in the 70s, my beach volleyball mates nicjnamed me "tuna". So, there are lots of reasons. . .

-Bob Francis


I chose this design because it reminds me of my mom and the love of the ocean that she gave to me growing up. My mom, stepdad, and father were all commercial fisherman and I spent the first 2 years of my life on a fishing boat. Even though my mom moved my sister and me onto shore when I was 2, we have always loved the ocean and my mom dreams of returning to it once the last child has moved out of the house. My mom would have become a marine biologist if she had stayed in school instead of devoting her life to her family and I am attempting to follow in her footsteps (the marine biology part, not the family). Sad but true, I am one of those misunderstood, destined to be poor, dropped-on-her-head-when-she-was-a-baby marine biologist wanna-be's. Though perhaps there is hope for me; I am more of a general ichthyologist (I don't discriminate between fresh- and saltwater fish. . .I think they are all amazing). Though I have a sneaking suspicion that is just as bad as wanting to be a marine biologist. . . .

-Nichole Hagel


I had a deal with a friend that we would both get tattoos when we reached age 40.
I selected the "generic" seahorse from a Christmas card, fittingly, as I've been the primary seahorse Aquarist for several years

-Debbie Melechinsky

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