Friday, July 08, 2011


A recent article in The News Tribune focused on a gray whale skeleton being assembled in Tacoma. Last week, The Child and I set off to find it. Unfortunately, I had the address wrong and we ended up wandering around the wrong part of town. Today, I had the correct street and block but wasn't sure we would find it. An eavesdropping passenger on the Link light rail assured me that he had just passed the skeleton and its crew earlier in the morning. (Thank you for overhearing our conversation and speaking up!)

We found it! We poked our head in the doorway and were invited in. Next thing we know, we are being encouraged to touch and lift bones. Some of the students and scientists showed The Child the finger bones of the flippers while I took some pictures, which they also encouraged. The Wife was outside discussing some of the details of the flensing of the whale's corpse with one of the marine biologists.

It was an absolutely awesome experience.

[1] Vertebrae and ribs, recently bleached and inventoried.

[2] Arroyo gray whale skull.

[3] Spine, ribs, and diagram of flipper bones layout.


1,300 pounds of bones—for a beast that weighed 40,000 pounds overall—were scattered throughout a small Tacoma storefront. The bones were rather light for their size. The Child was easily able to lift a rib bone that one of the scientists placed in The Child's hands.


The bones are tough yet somewhat hollow, similar in structure to those of a bird. (At least in my imagination. The truth may slightly different.)

These large creatures can truly "fly" through the sea.

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