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Massive dolphin emerges at Upper Keys marina

Artist David Dunleavy clears his paint gun nozzle while putting finishing touches on a huge mural called 'Dolphin Rodeo' Friday at the Tavernier Creek Marina.
Artist David Dunleavy clears his paint gun nozzle while putting finishing touches on a huge mural called 'Dolphin Rodeo' Friday at the Tavernier Creek Marina.

Marine-life artist David Dunleavy is putting the finishing touches on a gargantuan "Dolphin Rodeo" mural that he painted on the sides of two boat barns at the Tavernier Creek Marina.

Dunleavy's large-scale creation, featuring two huge dolphin fish leaping to feed on flying fish, stretches 252 feet long and 32 feet high. The New Jersey-based artist says they are the largest dolphin fish, also known as mahi-mahi, ever painted in the world.

Not to be confused with dolphin the mammal, dolphin fish are a popular game fish in the Florida Keys.

Dunleavy worked seven to eight hours per day for 23 days to create the bold illustration. It is the 62nd in a series of sea-life murals he has painted and the fourth such in the Keys.

"The wall has excellent exposure and can't be missed driving south on the Keys' Overseas Highway," Dunleavy said Friday. "As a an avid fisherman and diver, I take all the inspiration and beauty from fishing and diving experiences and paint them in a very large way for people to enjoy."

The mural is scheduled to be dedicated during the Nick Sheahan Dolphin Rodeo Tournament set for May 4 to 6, 2016, at the Tavernier Creek Marina, mile marker 90.8. Sherwin Williams donated the paint and Sunbelt Rentals provided the hydraulic lift Dunleavy used to complete the mural.

Marine-life murals are common in the Keys. Two of the largest: Artist Wyland painted a huge one on a building at mile marker 100 and he and fellow marine-life artist Guy Harvey created the one on the wall of the Marathon Kmart.

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