Sandy with skulls that will be in the Whale Center
The Central Puget Sound Marine Mammal Stranding Network has responded to and retrieved two more dead stranded Harbor Porpoise since the last report - one from Camano Island, and the other from Whidbey Island. A third porpoise was reported and photographed on Whidbey Island recently, but it had been too scavenged to necropsy or collect much data from. This is a higher than usual number of porpoise in comparison with most years, but bioligists have seen a growing Harbor porpoise population in our area, so it's possible the increase in strandings is due to the increase in population. The two porpoise that were necropsied show signs of disease and ill health, and samples are being held to send off to be sampled to help us determine the exact cause of death.
The porpoise we discussed in our last update is being held to be cleaned and the skeleton rearticulated, to become a future display in our new Langley Whale Center.
On Saturday March 1st, Orca Network will open the doors to our new Langley Whale Center, in Langley on beautiful Whidbey Island! Langley is a great place to see Gray whales in the spring, as they come in to feed on the ghost shrimp in the nearshore area. Our local group of about 10 - 12 gray whales visits Whidbey Island from March through May or June each year, so the opening of our Whale Center will be just in time to welcome the return of the whales.
Orca Network's new Whale Center is supported by Langley Main Street Association and the City of Langley, and we have been hard at work on preparing the exhibits and displays, which will include information about the local Gray whales, the Southern Resident orcas, Transient orcas, and other cetaceans and marine mammals of the Salish Sea.
A Blue whale jawbone has been loaned to us by Monte Hughes of Mystic Sea Charters, and will be used to make an archway over the entrance to the Whale Center. We will display bones, baleen, barnacles, and whale lice from Gray whales that have stranded on Whidbey Island, as well as skulls from seals and sea lions and other marine mammal specimens our Central Puget Sound Marine Mammal Stranding Network has collected over the years.
The Center includes a DVD player to play educational videos about the whales of our area, a Lending Library of whale books and videos for visitors to check out, and educational materials, as well as a small gift shop to sell whale books, DVDs, and other whale-related items.
Our Orca Network/Central Puget Sound Marine Mammal Stranding Network board and volunteers have been busy preparing to open our doors March 1st, and we will be planning a Grand Opening in the late spring or early summer, once we have everything in place.
The Langley Whale Center is an exciting opportunity, and the first time Orca Network and Central Puget Sound Marine Mammal Stranding Network will have a space open to the public to better share information about our whales and marine mammals, and we expect our outreach to be greatly multiplied by this endeavor. The Center is located at 117 Anthes, in Langley on Whidbey Island, and is only a block away from the waterfront and "Whale Bell Park" where the big Whale Bell is rung whenever whales are spotted in the area.
If you are on Whidbey Island, come visit our new Langley Whale Center, and stop in to say hello! And if you're lucky, maybe you'll get to watch some whales from the shores of Whidbey Island with us ~
Langley Whale Center sign and logo
Jill Hein photo: Gray whale spyhops near Langley!
Howard Garrett & board members planning the Center
Board members Dave & Karen Anderson & Dave's mural