Friday, January 28, 2011

Week 2 Orca Articulation

Week 2 of the orca articulation is rapidly coming to an end and things are really beginning to come together (literally).
Can you see the bubbles floating around?  Silicone and bubble soap are used to fill in between each vertebrae; the silicone serves as the filler while the slippery bubble soap allows our nimble-fingered volunteers to mold the sticky silicone into the specific shape we want. Don't worry, the skeleton won't be emitting bubbles for perpetuity;  Libby, Chrissy and I just couldn't resist a little after-work fun... 

Eliza and Chloe Dawson took on the important task of "mapping the curve" for the position of the skeleton:

The pipe was then bent to match the created curve and vertebrae were drilled and assembled onto the pipe:

Work on the flippers and skull is continuing to move forward with great progress.  Finished products will be highlighted in later blog posts.
Linda Dacon and Deanna Pindell in the workshop

Glenn Waldenberg and Darryl Hrenko have been working on the tail portion of the skeleton.  See and hear about Glenn's experience in his video interview below.

Can't wait to see what we will  be working on next!

Heather Jones
Orca Project Coordinator

Friday, January 21, 2011

Week 1 Orca Articulation

The first week of the Orca Articulation Project is already coming to an end and we are making great progress! This week has been an exciting and busy time as volunteers finish final cleaning on the bones and start putting the pieces of this whale together. You can learn the story of our orca, named Hope, on our Orca Project web page.

A few highlights from this week's work:

Volunteers Sue and Karen describe the process (so far) of assembling an orca flipper:

One of the most inspiring parts about working on the Orca Project is how it has attracted the support and attention of so many members of our community.  A local glass artist created these "Hope Beads" to sell and is donating all the proceeds to the Orca Project!  These one of a kind creations will be available at our open Skeleton Articulation Open Houses  on Fri-Sun, 1-4pm, February 4,5,6 and 11, 12, 13.

We hope to see you in February. What part of the whale do you think we will be working on by then?

Friday, January 14, 2011

Bone Scanning Ends and The Bone Man Arrives!

For the next month the Natural History Exhibit here at PTMSC will be turned into an orca-articulation-workshop! 

Work assembling the skeleton of killer whale, Hope, does not officially begin until next week, but already a lot of exciting things are happening.  Robert Schlader and Nick Clement, research associates at Idaho State Universtiy, have been taking digital scans of all 153 bones.  The resulting images will be used on a research website and will also be available on PTMSC's website.

Check out the video below to catch a glimpse of the scanning process. 

Lee Post, "The Boneman", arrived yesterday from Homer, Alaska and will be leading the articulation process.  Lee has assembled all sorts of specimens from a bat to a gray whale.  This will be the second orca Lee has articulated.  The first time was much more rushed.  He is looking forward to taking more time to assemble this skeleton.

Find out how Lee became interested in assembling skeletons in the video below.

Stay tuned for weekly updates on the articulation process and if you are new to this project, learn more here.

Looking forward to the next step,
Orca Project Coordinator

Saturday, January 1, 2011

You know you work at PTMSC when...

A running series of jokes around here go something like this:
"You know you work at PTMSC when: smell like orca"'re routinely covered in marine goop
..... the "milkshake" you prepare with greatest frequency is one that consists of krill, fish, kelp and sea water know what marine invertebrate DEATH smells like

As humorous and true as these are, today, I'm feeling profoundly grateful for one of the other attributes of our job here:

You know you work at PTMSC when you see stunningly beautiful views nearly every day of work:
December sunrise over the Marine Science Center
Mt. Rainier peeking over the horizon,
as seen from the pier
The Cascade range on a winter afternoon
The mountains and moon behind the MSC
Mt. Baker basking in alpenglow 
Even after the magical, warm glow of the sun has left,
the clouds are still pretty incredible

I know that it will be these views (captured by my very basic camera), and the accompanying feelings of awe and gratitude that will stick in my memory the longest, even though they may be less distinctively pungent than that fishy slurry we call a "milkshake"! 

For many reasons, this is an incredibly special place to work.

Happy New Year! 
Jess Swihart
Natural History Exhibit Coordinator