• Sunset view of Glacier Bay and the surrounding Fairweather Mountains.

    Glacier Bay

    National Park & Preserve Alaska

Constructing the Skull Cleaning Tank

March 27, 2013 Posted by: K. VandenBerg

How do you clean an oily, fragile 14 ft. long humpback whale skull? Very carefully! In order to accommodate the enormous skull, Dan and his crew had to construct a cleaning tank that was five times larger than any tank they had previously built for this project. The enormous tank was built AROUND the skull with 4 ft. high walls!  It was a big job, but necessary.

Building the tank around the skull accomplished several things. First, it allowed the skull to be easily moved from its storage trailer into a hanging position over the tank platform.  Dan's goal was to minimize movement of the skull to reduce the risk of further damage.  By using straps and a gantry system, he was able to swing the skull from the trailer to the tank platform, located just a few feet away. Second, the gantry provided support for the skull during construction by keeping it just off the tank floor.  The gantry also provided support during the soak. And finally, it allowed Dan construct a very large vessel that was mobile.

After four days of soaking at 140-170 degrees, the skull had to be removed from the tank to dry. Dan had to move the tank outside in order to access the heavy equipment he needed to remove the skull. This task was done using an excavator and a very skilled driver! Way to go, Dan! Can you figure out how Dan moved the enormous tank from the garage to the driveway? Think Ancient Egypt!

Whale 68's clean skull is now back on its trailer undergoing repairs for articulation.

Constructing the Skull Tank


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