Saturday, June 30, 2012

Tomorrow's the big day! July 1st at 10:00 a.m. volunteers will meet at the Pratt Museum's workshop to begin work on the gray whale skeleton. Let the fun begin!

Monday, June 25, 2012

IN THE BEGINNING this deceased gray whale was spotted in Halibut Cove Lagoon, on June 22, 1999. The whale carcass was retrieved and hauled to a nearby beach.

Over 50 community volunteers generously donated their time (during a couple very busy summer days) to help butcher the whale so its skeleton could be salvaged for a future exhibit at the Pratt Museum. 

Post-cranial fleshed-out parts of the whale were put in crab pots and lowered to the floor of Kachemak Bay where sand fleas, bottom fish, crabs and microbes nibbled away at the remains of flesh, cleaning up the bones. 

The baleen was taken to the Museum's bone yard for drying and cleaning, and the skull was submerged under a dock for safekeeping and critter cleaning. The salvage was completed on August 10, 1999. The flippers were buried in a raised bed behind the Museum for burial cleaning. The clean bones of the flipper were dug up in 2001.

The cleaned bones of the skeleton were placed in protected areas to be bleached by the sun. The bones were then placed in storage.

It is now 2012 and the time has come to bring the skeleton of this gray whale back to life during the months of July and August, once again with the help of  community volunteers. The skeleton will be hung for display at the Pratt Museum in January, 2013.

Resource: "The Great Kachemak Bay Gray Whale Salvage" written by Betsy Webb, Curator of Collections, Pratt Museum, 1999.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

What will be done first to the skeleton? Some of the bones (and the skull) need to have a little repair done to them. This will be done by using different fillers (such as polymer clay and Apoxie Sculpt) to fill in missing areas, so if you like sculpting, this would be a great project for you. Then some of the bones will need a little touch-up with paint to give them a more even color. This will require mixing acrylic-type paint and painstaking sponge painting the bones to get a nice blended look. It will take 6 people about a week to get all the bones of the body done, and 2 people another week to get the skull done.
Is there a deadline for signing up? No, we will welcome volunteers anytime through the months of July and August. But if you want to get in at the very beginning the sooner we hear from you the better. Work starts on the skeleton July 1st (we will take July 4th off) so even if you show up at the Pratt's workshop on that day you will be put to work.

Okay, hopefully I have all the preliminary information on here so we can now post some questions that have been coming in. If you have a question and would like to post it here on this page, please do so. There is no such thing as a dumb question so don't be shy.

First question: If I volunteer will I have to give up my whole summer? Yes. . .No, just kidding. (^-^) The tasks needed to get this skeleton together, will be broken up into multiple sections of varying time allotments so individuals may volunteer for as much or as little time as they like. There are some tasks that will take a week to do, but that doesn't mean you have to work on it for the full week, but if you would like to do that, that would be okay too. There are some little jobs that will only take a day or two.

So, it will be up to you. If you want to be there every day all day long, THAT WOULD BE GREAT! But if you only want to work maybe two half days, or one day THAT WOULD BE GREAT TOO!

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

To clarify a statement made in the Thursday, June 14, 2012 edition of the Homer News, in the Town Crier under the heading "Pratt Museum", there will be no cleaning of the whale skeleton bones. They are all nice and clean and free of any gross stuff. There will, however, before the bones can be connected to each other (articulated), a period of two weeks when the nice clean bones of the body and the skull will need to be "consolidated" with a solution to harden the bones, and some of the bones may need to have some "body work" done to them, then painstakingly sponge painted to make them look super nice.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Welcome to the Pratt Museum's Homer Community 
Gray Whale Skeleton Project
In Homer, Alaska ~ July and August 2012

Where all may witness the progress (and process) as community member volunteers of        Homer, Alaska, articulate a 37-foot-long gray whale skeleton

For the next two weeks this blog will be used as a tool to recruit, organize and schedule adult community volunteers for this project. After articulation begins on July 1st you will be able to follow the progress as these community members put together the skeleton of this magnificent creature. Thank you for joining us!

We invite all adult community members to volunteer. NO EXPERIENCE NECESSARY! You will be under the guidance of whale skeleton articulation expert, Lee Post. In order to better schedule volunteers and find jobs they would be most happy doing, we ask all volunteers to fill out a sign-up form found here: You may take the completed form to the Homer Bookstore, or you may email it directly to the volunteer coordinator, Mary Maly, at 

Here is the timeline for the Gray Whale Skeleton project that shows what tasks are required and how long each task takes and in what sequence. If you see a job(s) you would like be part of, be sure to let the volunteer coordinator know. Or if you have any questions you may reach Mary at 235-6247 or email at
Click on the photo to see a larger image.
Holly Cusack-McVeigh, Ph.D., Curator for the Pratt Museum, is the director of the Gray Whale Skeleton Project with Ryjil Christianson, Director of Education. If you have any questions you may call the Pratt Museum at 235-8635.

We would like to thank our generous sponsors: The Alaska Marine Highway, NOAA, The Skaggs Foundation, and Apache