After being handled by thousands of hands at the Beaty museum, the set of blue whale flipper bones we had made were needing to be retired. This was a fun little project to reproduce and paint the flipper bones from the molds we had made in 2010. The world of molding and casting is developing rapidly these days, so it's always fun to geek out on new products and materials each time we do a casting job!
This July, we spent 2 amazing weeks in California, working for the Noyo Center for Marine Science to run an articulation workshop with fellow skeleton articulator, Lee Post (the boneman), and with the community of Fort Bragg. We worked with five student interns and many wonderful, talented people from the community to build two stunning sea lion skeletons (photos to come.)
We mounted a male California sea lion roaring on all fours as though defending his territory. A female Steller's sea lion was captured in mid-turn as she gracefully swam through the sea. This was a real team collaboration. And it was so much fun!
Much enthusiasm was generated for the Noyo Center's innitiatives including their ambitious project to mount a 72' blue whale skeleton. We are looking forward to working with them on this, hopefully beginning next year. For more information about the Noyo Center and about this project, see the Noyo Center website.
Gray whale exhibit complete
On May 22, the Underwater Harvester's gray whale exhibit was unveiled in ceremony to the community of Deep Bay and all of the people who generously funded the project. This was truly a community achievement, a collaboration between Fisheries, the Sc'ianew First Nation and Vancouver Island University, funded by the public and with over 700 volunteer hours on the project. It was an honour and such fun to be involved in. For more information on the event, please see the news release with a link to more photos.
Just as we were packing up to head west to the wild outer coast to guide and support the BBC to film sea otters up close and in the wild for their new Oceans documentary, we received a call about a Cuvier's Beaked Whale skeleton that had washed up in southern Haida Gwaii. Thanks to our amazing friends and colleagues, Leah, Marina and Neale, we were able to collect this truly interesting specimen, which is slated for display in the new interpretive building in Gwaii Haanas National Park in 2018. Stay tuned for more!
Gray whale articulation underway
Vancouver Island University's gray whale skeleton at the Deep Bay Centre for Shellfish Research is coming together quickly with continued support from the community and help from some amazing volunteers. Articulating has officially begun, starting with the flippers this week. The next step is to begin gluing vertebrae onto backbone steel and figuring out the tricky internal rib mounts.
Risso's dolphin in Ganges harbour
We received a call from Fisheries last week asking us to find and identify a reported very sick-looking killer whale in Ganges harbour. After following the animal for about an hour we were able to positively identify it as a Risso's dolphin. These animals are usually found offshore and are highly social, so it was very strange to see one in shallow waters here. The last reported sighting of a Risso's dolphin in these waters may have been as long ago as the late 1970's. When we left it, it was behaving fairly typically and heading out of the harbour. We don't know exactly why it ended up here on its own and hope that it has since made it back to its usual habitat.
The Raise a Whale project for Vancouver Island University at the Deep Bay Centre for Shellfish Research is well underway. We've been hosting community workshops for the month of February and have had some awesome help. You can check out a recent story by CTV on the project on our media page. The workshop is busy with lots to see and the station is open to the public every day of the week - come check out the touch tanks, discovery lab and our gray whale workshop for yourself! See the Deep Bay Marine Field Station website for directions.
Double-tusked narwhal skull
We just finished repairing this truly amazing double-tusked narwhal skull. It was acquired by the Vancouver Aquarium two years ago during the regulated Arctic hunt and was sent to us with considerable trauma to the skull. After degreasing and a little gluing, sculpting and painting, it's now ready to join the aquarium's upcoming Sea Monsters exhibit.
The blue whale vertebrae that chiropractor, Jerome Fryer, acquired from a drag-net fisherman in Ucluelet, B.C., in 1991 have finally found a home in a skookum new installation in his new Nanaimo office. The bones posed really unique preparatory challenges for us as they had probably sat on the deep ocean floor for decades, acquiring anaerobic bacterial communities and altering the oils that we usually deal with in large bones like these. But we are pleased with the results. Dr. Fryer is using these bones as art installation and patient education tool in his practice in conjunction with the innovative dynamic human spinal models he creates.
Hot vapour degreasing underway
After many phone calls with Marc and John at Reliance Specialty Products and several months of fabricating and puzzling together the electrical and plumbing, we have successfully run our first batch of skeletons through our new hot vapour degreasing system. In about one month, we were able to thoroughly and safely degrease a 35' gray whale, two killer whales, a collection of blue whale vertebrae and a few other bones as well. Check out our degreasing page for more info about our new machine.