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California Coastal Commission to Debut New Whale Tail® Specialty License Plate

Published: 08/02/2011

(Laguna Beach, CA) -- At the press conferences, the California Coastal Commission will introduce a "whale of a deal" for the public, with details on special incentives to encourage purchase of the new license plate, and will announce the names of the design contest winners.

The vibrant new plate features a sunny sky with puffy clouds and the tail of a humpback whale splashing droplets of water into a deep blue sea. It looks like a bright day and is very evocative of California.
"The new design captures the spirit and essence of the majestic Pacific humpback whale, a popular sighting along the Pacific coast," said DMV Director George Valverde. "We applaud the work of the artisans and the Coastal Commission."

First produced in 1997, the iconic Whale Tail® plate is among the most popular specialty license plates ever sold. Nearly 200,000 plates have been purchased to date, raising $60.2 million for coastal conservation efforts and education, and other environmental conservation projects throughout the state.

Marine life artist Wyland of Laguna Beach designed the artwork for the first Whale Tail® license plate. After Wyland asked for a 20% royalty from all sales of the license plates, the decision was made to seek out a new design. On July 12, 2011, the Coastal Commission issued a Declaration of Appreciation to Wyland thanking him for his generous contribution. "While we are grateful to Wyland for his donation over many years, we opted to retire the plate," said Peter Douglas, Executive Director of the California Coastal Commission. "This presented an exciting opportunity to freshen the look of the license plate, inspire new interest, and get the public involved."

The California Coastal Commission held a contest to design a new Whale Tail® license plate, retaining the whale theme that has become so popular with Californians. After receiving more than 300 entries, the Commission selected two winners (one lives in Northern California, one in Southern California) and invited them to collaborate on a new Whale Tail image combining facets of each of their winning designs. A team of graphic designers made final refinements.

As part of the rollout, the California Coastal Commission will kick off Stewards of the Coast, a summer campaign culminating in the 27th Annual California Coastal Cleanup Day on Saturday, September 17th. Convention and visitor bureaus from across the state stepped up to support this campaign to promote their destinations and California tourism as a whole and to unite around promoting sales of the Whale Tail® License Plate.

The Stewards of the Coast sponsor team was spearheaded by Anaheim/Orange County Visitor and Convention Bureau, and includes the following additional major sponsors: the City of Dana Point and its partners the County of Orange, Dana Point Harbor Association, and Dana Point Chamber of Commerce; Santa Monica Convention and Visitors Bureau and its partners Pier Restoration Corporation, Pacific Park, and Office of Sustainability and the Environment, City of Santa Monica; SeaWorld, San Diego; and Waste Management WM EarthCare.

Supporting sponsors include Huntington Beach Marketing and Visitors Bureau (Surf City USA®), Laguna Beach Visitors and Conference Bureau, Long Beach Convention and Visitors Bureau, San Francisco Travel, Santa Barbara Conference and Visitors Bureau, Santa Cruz County Conference and Visitors Council, Sonoma County Tourism Bureau, Visit Newport Beach Inc., Aquarium of the Bay in San Francisco, Long Beach Aquarium of the Pacific, SEA LIFETM Carlsbad Aquarium at the LEGOLAND® California Resort, and Whole Foods Market.

During the month of July, the DMV has suspended on-line orders as they transition to the sale of the new plate, but will accept mail-in orders for the redesigned Whale Tail® plate. On-line orders will resume August 2nd. For more information, including a printable application, please visit

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