Whale 68: Cleaning and Preparation
Preserving the Bones
Not long after the whale was towed to the beach, the park decided to protect and preserve the skeleton 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 until 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 bundled hundreds of stinky, oily whale bones.
Park Service Log, October 14, 2002
Cleaning the Bones
Over the next 10 years, park staff and community volunteers would spend over 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 an arduous task - they are large, stinky, and cumbersome. Bones were soaked in saltwater, buried in compost, pressure washed, submersed in gasoline, boiled in metal stock tanks, and bleached in the sun. Each had its own prescribed treatment.
Park Service Log, October 11, 2005
After many attempts to remove stubborn oils, the bones were finally left to dry in a heated storage container.
Preparing the Bones
In July, 2010, the Park requested the services of well known Alaska Articulation Specialist, Lee Post. In order to prepare for future articulation, Glacier Bay needed a complete inventory of Whale 68's skeleton. As a result of her injuries and postmortum trauma, some of her bones were in great need of repair - many were chipped, broken, or even missing. Within two days of arrival, Lee had conducted a complete inventory and created a detailed report that that would later became an essential document for the articulation project. Check out Lee's work at: http://theboneman.com
Despite years of effort with much success, many of Whale 68's bones could not be cleaned enough on site to satisfy the requirements for an outdoor exhibit in Glacier Bay. Every bone had to be oil free and odorless so as not to attract small rodents and/or large mammals. Many bones needed repair and several vertebrae were missing. In order to move forward with the project, the park decided to hire a specialist who could clean and repair the bones professionally.
Welcome Dan DenDanto of "Whales and Nails"
In September 2012, the park hired Articulation Specialist, Dan DenDanto of Whales and Nails to clean and repair Whale 68's skeleton. Located in Seal Cove, Maine, Whales and Nails has been cleaning, articulating, and restoring whale skeletons since 1993. In addition to owning Whales and Nails, Dan is also the Director of the Fin Whale Catalog and a Senior Scientist at Allied Whale, a Research Associate at College of the Atlantic, and a Ph.D. Candidate at the University of Maine's School of Marine Sciences. His knowledge of whale anatomy and extensive experience in the field contribute to his extraordinary ability to work on this unique National Park Service project. To learn more about Dan DenDanto and Whales and Nails, go to: www.whalesandnails.com
To learn more about how the Whales and Nails crew prepared the skeleton, go to: Articulation - Phase I.
Did You Know?
It was the inspiration of one man, Dr. William S. Cooper, an ecologist studying how plant life returns to land freshly revealed from beneath retreated glaciers, that lead to the establishment of Glacier Bay as a National Monument in 1925.