Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Flensing the Baleen (whatever that means)


Volunteer Roger Wilson teaches students
about the flensed gray whale skull
The Marine Science Center is celebrating its 30th anniversary here in Port Townsend and I for one am glad to be a part of it. From the various educational opportunities offered to local schools, to the citizen science program, there’s a little something for everybody here.
The very first thing I did at the Marine Science Center was flense the baleen of the gray whale now hanging up in the Natural History Exhibit. It was done at Fort Worden in one of the back workshops. I didn’t know it back then, but this was part of a much larger project that would echo through many people’s lives in the years to come.
When I first came to Port Townsend I was 10 years old and living in an RV at Point Hudson. My mother, being the Marine freak that she is, immediately sought out the Marine Science Center. I, not knowing any better, tagged along. Little did I know I was in for something rather unexpected. At that point I didn’t know what baleen was, let alone how to flense it. At this point in my life I still don’t remember the exact process, but I do remember that it was time-consuming and hard. 
Why did I sign up for this? is just about the only thing I remember about that day.  Looking back on it many years later and seeing the skull hanging up in the Natural History Exhibit, I realize that it was indeed a worthwhile thing to do.

                                                                        By Ethan Walat (age 22)

This is one of 30 reasons to give $30 to celebrate 30 years. Or increase your impact and give more. All funds support the Future Fund to keep the PTMSC going strong. Donate online or call (360) 385-5582, ext. 104, or send a check to 532 Battery Way, Port Townsend, WA 98368.

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