Tuesday, December 22, 2009

The Flipper

The last few weeks have been filled with orca flipper field trips and adventures. My nose has become accustomed to new smells, my hands have touched pure orca flesh and my eyes have watered from the steam of flipper stew.

Up until recently CA-189's right flipper was being stored in a freezer at NOAA. Why freeze one flipper and nothing else? The reason was to have documentation of the location and arrangement of all the small bones found in the flipper. This will help greatly during articulation this spring.

Check out CA-189's right flipper x-ray and all the ladies displaying the results!

Although the bones were the main reason for the flipper freeze, it was suggested how great it would be to have documentation of the flipper itself. Measurements were taken and tracings made to document size and shape for possible future projects.

The flipper was covered with a unique variety of scratches. Many of these may have resulted from stranding, but others may have been acquired during her life. The other three AmeriCorps and I rolled up our sleeves and got down to business making a series of flipper prints.

After measurements, scans, tracings, paintings and pictures it was finally time to remove the bones from the flesh. How might one go about that? By making flipper stew of course! An old bath tub was the boiling pot and the heat of the stew removed a large portion of the flesh surrounding the bones.

All the flipper bones have been retrieved and are currently in the process of being cleaned.

Good-bye right flipper. Our time together has been smelly, messy and cold, but never greeted without a smile.

Here's to what's next,

Orca Project Coordinator


  1. Awesome post! I'll bet the flipper stew smelled delightful. Hehe. Chrissy plays a perfect whale witch with that hat on!

  2. THis is a hard work because I figure out that the odor of that should be terrible, but the final process is perfect because we can see the bones in order to learn more about the anatomy of them.


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