Chrissy, Libby, Heather, and Julia with the Blue Whale skull!
At the crack of dawn we rubbed our eyes, rolled out of bed, stuffed our passports in our backpacks and headed for our neighbor to the north (also known as Canada). When we arrived, this project, which had been in the works for over 2 years, was coming to an end. Lee Post, our bone expert, accompanied us. It was fascinating to listen to him swap stories and information with Mike deRoos, the head articulator for The Blue Whale Project.
Bone Experts, Mike and Lee; examine the flipper bones of the blue whale.
The University of British Columbia's blue whale skeleton is full of interesting stories; some similar and others totally different from the tales of our own orca skeleton. One of the more hilarious stories goes back to when the whale originally died on the East Coast in 1987. A local resident removed one of the blue whale's flippers (without permission!) with his personal chainsaw and stashed it in the woods behind his house for nearly 20 years. When UBC began excavating the skeleton, the man approached the crew and confessed the location of his blue whale souvenir. Grateful crew members then retrieved the bones, reuniting them with the rest of the body.
Here is a taste of what we saw:
Jess and the underside of the skull
Julia and the caudal (tail) vertebrae
Julia and Heather with a series of vertebrae
This experience left me feeling like a kid in a candy shop! Giddy, excited and fully stimulated! The finished skeleton is now on display at the Beaty Biodiversity Museum. I recommend heading up there and checking it out. I'm certainly planning to!
Learn more about The Blue Whale Project here: http://www.beatymuseum.ubc.ca/projblue01.html
Funding for PTMSC's Orca Project comes from the Institute for Museum and Library Services.
Looking forward to what's next,
Heather Jones, Orca Project Coordinator