New life for deceased and diseased orca in Port Townsend

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by GARY CHITTIM / KING 5 NEWS

NWCN.com

Posted on February 1, 2011 at 6:54 PM

Updated Tuesday, Feb 1 at 7:47 PM

PORT TOWNSEND, Wash. -- When you have 159 individual whale bones that must be perfectly placed together, there is no solid guide available to make sure it's being done right.

But workers and volunteers at the Port Townsend Marine Science Center have a once in a lifetime opportunity to bring to life the bones of an orca.

They have been putting long hours into recreating an orca who washed up dead on a Washington State beach 10 years ago.

The body first served scientists as the most contaminated carcass of any creature ever tested. Toxins like PCB's and DDT riddled her bodied and possibly contributed to her death.

Now, the skeleton will become a "spokesanimal" for the museum and hopefully help people understand the powerful and fragile nature of the ocean's top predator.

The bones and skull are in pristine condition and show the deterioration caused by an apparent form of osteoporosis that only affects orcas, in addition to other illnesses.

Tests are continuing to see if the whale's death can be linked to toxins thriving in our oceans, but biologists already believe the level of contamination in her body had to make her sick.

The huge orca skeleton make her public debut Friday, February 4 at the Port Townsend Marine Science Center museum.

 

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