For the last several months the Discovery Passage Aquarium has been host to the skeleton of an offshore killer whale. The bones of this mature female, ‘O120’ were preserved by a west-coast not-for-profit group, the Strawberry Isle Marine Research Society after she died of natural causes in 1997.
The group had the foresight to develop the bones into an educational prop, and now O120 provides interactive learning experiences that help educate about orca and the threats we humans pose to them.
While based here in Campbell River, the skeleton has been the subject of many presentations to different groups – including local schools, homeschoolers, Brownies, Beavers, and even a pre-school group. Both Cedar Elementary and Ecole Willow Point PACs have funded the whale to be in their schools for a week, and classes have been engaged in a variety of programming and independent study.
O120 was also the focal subject of a well-attended talk by Jackie Hildering, aka ‘The Marine Detective,’ which was part of the Public Science Speaker Series put on by the Aquarium.
“It’s a well-know thing that we all learn in very different ways,” said Explorer Lab manager Deb Cowper at the inaugural build at the aquarium at the end of summer. “From a book, you can learn a lot of different facts and things, but with this you can really feel and connect and really get a sense of it.
“For example, I never really realized just how big she was until she arrived – and she’s actually a small version of an orca – and I was really able to see and feel and appreciate and connect to it more.”
The Build-a-Whale has been kindly sponsored by Discovery Marine Safaris and their sister company, Stubbs Island Whale Watching. Their generosity has enabled programming costs to be kept to a minimum as part of the launch of the Aquarium’s new educational facility, the Explorer Lab, located by the Maritime Heritage Centre.
For the last two Sundays of this month the public will have opportunity to Build-a-Whale at the Explorer Lab.
Two sessions will be held on each of the 22nd and 29th of November. Those with younger children are encouraged to attend the morning presentations, starting at 10 a.m., while the afternoon events will be geared to an older audience and begin at 2 p.m. Each fun and informative session lasts one hour, and costs $5 per person (children under 5 are free).
Bookings are required, and can be made by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or by leaving a message at 250-914-5500.