Skip to content

Using cartoon characters to translate coral conservation – The making of “Bubs” and “Ellie” – Basheer Ahmed

By on March 9, 2018 in Coral Reefs, Coral threats, Corals, EDGE Fellows, Focal species

Basheer Ahmed is an EDGE Fellow working to protect vulnerable EDGE coral species in the Maldives. Read more about him here.

Bubs and Ellie were inspired by two very real and vulnerable corals. Bubs by the delightful Physogyra lichtensteini, the “pearl bubble coral” and Ellie by the tranquil Pachyseris rugosa or the “elephant skin coral”.

Physogyra lichtensteini (left) and Pachyseries rugosa (right). ©ChIP-Fenner-Sheppard


Initial sketches of Bubs and Ellie


Initial drafts for Bubs the pearl bubble coral


Final illustrations of Bubs and Ellie


The key element I kept in mind while drafting Bubs and Ellie is that they should be designed to capture the attention of young children in a way that they love and relate to these characters. One of my favourite personal touches is the bubble coral shrimp in Bubs’ hair.

Bubs and Ellie are representatives of the ocean, trying to raise awareness on the dire situation our oceans are in and educate children on things they can do to help. The primary goal is to guide children to develop a strong bond and love for the ocean.

The characters will be featured in children’s books, posters, full color illustrations, coloring and activity books and hopefully in animations to raise awareness and teach children about the wonders and importance of the marine ecosystems and to promote green themes.

They can also be mascots in schools and classrooms to educate primary grade students on subjects such as environmental studies, conservation and promoting good behaviors such as the three R’s (Reuse, Reduce, Recycle). These approaches can easily be integrated into problem-based learning to come up with ideas as to how we can come together to save oceans.