Tuesday, May 21, 2013

The Adventures of Sarah and Stinky Bill

Tuesday was a pretty hectic day! On this momentous day, we were visited by around 60 to 70 fourth graders to learn about Gray whales.  The programming was fantastic! The Whale Museum has a number of whale skeletons, but the fourth graders actually got to put together a disarticulated gray whale skeleton found in 1995! This skeleton even has a name, Stinky Bill! From the head, school groups get to reassemble the spine, ribs, and tail, while identifying different types of bones and trying to figure out how Stinky Bill died.

Now, Gray whales are an interesting sort of baleen whale. Rather than gathering up water, they head down to the bottom of a shallower part of the ocean and scoop up mud! Inside this mud is the food they love to eat—plankton, krill, and their favorite food—amphipods, a small shrimp-like creature.   

Because of this, Gray whale baleen is set a bit wider apart than other baleen whales because it has more sediment to push out. Much like the other baleen whales, Gray whales scoop their food out of the baleen with their tongue (which can weigh up to 2,000 lbs!) and consume about 1.5 tons of krill and other associated creatures a day.

We had multiple school groups come in and learn this today. And after hearing the lecture so many times, I think I’ve gotten the basics down. But I’m still learning.

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