Whale 68: Cleaning and Preparation
With the whale on the beach, the park soon decided to protect and preserve Whale 68's bones for a future interpretive display. Over the next year, park staff and volunteers monitored the decomposing carcass and periodically retrieved bones that came loose or were in danger of being lost. The skeleton remained on the beach for 15 months before park staff hired a boat and heavy equipment to transport the bones back to Bartlett Cove. This event took place with the help of over a dozen volunteers who laboriously separated and lifted stinky, oily whale bones from the beach to the boat.
Park Service Log, October 14, 2002
Over the next 10 years, park staff and community volunteers would spend more than one thousand hours cleaning greasy whale bones in anticipation of articulation and display. As per suggestions from experts in the field, namely Lee Post, and Mike deRoos, various methods of cleaning were tried. Some attempts were more successful than others. Cleaning whale bones is not something you do every day - they are large, stinky, and cumbersome to move. Bones were soaked in saltwater, buried in compost, pressure washed, immersed in gasoline, boiled in crab pots, baked in the sun, and then finally left to dry in a heated storage container.
Despite all of these efforts, Whale 68's bones could not be cleaned enough on site to satisfy the requirements for an outdoor exhibit. They had to be free from oils and odor as not to become an attractant for small rodents and/or large mammals. Many of her bones were dry and relatively clean, but others were still dripping with pungent oil. Some bones were chipped, others broken, and some were even missing. In order to move forward with the project, the park hired a specialist who could clean the bones professionally.
In October of 2012, Snow's bones were entrusted to the care of Dan DenDanto of 'Whales and Nails' located in Seal Cove, Maine. Dan has professionally cleaned and articulated over 15 whales of various species. Over the next 7 months, Snow's bones will be given the care and attention they need in order to be prepared for a permanent outdoor display. The long awaited and highly anticipated Phase I of the Whale 68 Articulation Project began when the 'Whales and Nails' team traveled to Glacier Bay National Park in September 2012 to carefully pack up all the bones and transport them to their facility. Whale 68's bones traveled via U-Haul on the Alaska Marine Highway from Gustavus to Bellingham, WA, then they were driven overland 2600 miles from Washington to Maine! The crew will clean, repair, and fabricate new bones and reconstruct the very fragile, broken skull. Upon completion, Snow's bones will be shipped back to Glacier Bay to begin Phase II - Articulation and Installation. The target date for installation is fall of 2013.
Did You Know?
A Chestnut-backed Chickadee lines over half its nest with animal fur. It uses this fur to cover its eggs when it leaves the nest.