Sunday, April 3, 2011

April Showers Bring...Opening Day!

After being closed since Novemeber, the Marine Exhibit is finally open! On Friday, 56 intrepid visitors braved the rain to check out the newly filled tanks and animals on Opening Day.

Many of the tanks were empty over the winter, but that doesn’t mean there wasn’t work to do! For several months, I climbed into the tanks and hand buffed all the major scratches out of the acrylic with 6 different sandpaper grits and 2 liquid grits. Buffing can be scary because as you go through the series of sandpaper, the scratch gets bigger and bigger and you feel like you're making it worse, until it finally starts to fade and then disappear.  The process for each scratch is long, usually 30 minutes to an hour, depending on how deep the scratch is, how long it is and what position you have to be in to see what you're doing.  You can end up in some pretty interesting positions in order to be eye level with a scratch! 
Buffing two scratches at once in the Piling Tank
(Photo by: Chris Maclachan)

After all the major scratches were gone, I used a special attachment on a power drill to polish the acrylic using a liquid grit. This gets the little scratches out and gives the tanks a finished look.  At last the tanks were ready to be filled!
Power buffing the Piling Tank
Designing the Piling Tank was an all-day adventure. Jess and I spent an entire day in the tank supergluing mussels onto the pilings to make an accurate representation of the habitat under the pier. This year it went much faster, thanks to the brilliant insight of The Boneman, Lee Post, who advised us to use superglue with an accelerator spray that made the glue dry more quickly. This meant less time awkwardly trying to hold a clump of mussels you couldn’t see, waiting for the glue to set.  Because of this amazing glue, we were able to attach more mussels to the pilings!
Jess and I with our first mussels in the Piling Tank

Piling Tank Finished!
We also used the amazing superglue to attach rocks together and make a stable habitat that won’t break apart when we clean it. 
Filling the Rocky Cluster
 Once the habitats were ready, we started adding animals.  Tubesnouts, pipefish, snailfish, sculpins, shrimp, and decorator crabs are just a few of animals waiting to meet you!
 Grunt Sculpin
Don't hide in a barnacle like this grunt sculpin!  Come check out our new tanks and animals and watch as we add to our collection throughout the season!  Visit us on the Fort Worden pier Friday-Sunday, 12-4pm.

Julia Ledbetter
Marine Exhibit Education Coordinator

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