Whale Tails in Vermont Field


Reverence (Whale Tails)


Whale Tails in Vermont Field?

The Whale Tails, as they are locally known, are actually a  sculpture named ‘Reverence’ and were created by Jim Sardonis in 1989. The sculpture depicts two tails of whales “diving” into a sea of grass and is meant to symbolize the fragility of the planet. The tails were made from 36 tons of African black granite and stand 12-13 feet tall.


The sculpture was originally commissioned by David Threlkeld, a British metals trader, who was then a resident of Randolph, Vermont. They were to intended to be an exhibit at a conference center that Threlkeld was planning. When financing fell through and Threlkeld moved to Arizona, they were moved to Technology Park in South Burlington, Vermont where Ben & Jerry’s ice cream has its corporate headquarters.


‘Reverence’, or the Whale Tails, is a landmark of sorts alongside Interstate 89 between Exits 12 and 13 in Vermont. It’s located on the right side of the north-bound lane. The sculpture has graced the covers of at least two books, ‘Weird New England’ by Joseph A. Citro, and the art history textbook ‘A World of Art’ by Henry Sayre. It was included in ‘Weird New England’ because the sculpture is well-known statewide, has an unusual location, and depicts sea creatures in New England’s only landlocked state. ‘A World of Art’ also includes a CD-ROM with video of the creation of the sculpture.


‘Reverence’ is documented in the Smithsonian Museum’s Save Outdoor Sculpture! database. The sculpture was examined for Save Outdoor Sculpture! in 1992 while located along Interstate 89, west of exit 4, Randolph Center, Vermont before it moved to its’ South Burlington location.

‘Reverence’ has no connection to the Charlotte Whale, whose fossilized remains can be seen at UVM’s Perkins’ Museum. Read more about the Charlotte Whale here…  “Whales in Lake Champlain?”

Whale Tails

“Reverence” (The Whale Tails)
alongside I-89 in South Burlington, VT