Local schools learn about minke whales, assemble bones
Hope — The George B. Dorr Museum of Natural History's Bones, Baleen and Whale Ecology program on March 7 visited Hope Elementary School to teach students about whale behavior and anatomy.
The program — which was sponsored by Partners for Enrichment — previously that week visited schools in Lincolnville and Appleton.
Carrie Graham, supervisor of Dorr Museum and first-year human ecology student Ariana Rambach instructed students in assembling the skeleton of a 24-foot minke whale, which washed ashore near Mount Desert Island during the 1980s.
Graham said the whale, a 6- or 7-year-old female, was found tangled in lobster gear, and had likely drowned. The whale's bones were subsequently varnished and have since been used in educational programs.
Graham and Rambach taught students about several different types of cetaceans including blue whales, which they said possess hearts the size of cars. Graham said students could theoretically go "swimming in [blue whales'] blood vessels, though I wouldn't recommend it."
Rambach spoke about the work of Allied Whale, COA's marine mammal training and research group. The organization's work includes whale necropsies, which Rambach said are "really long and really, really smelly."
Allied Whale is on the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's list of approved organizations to respond to marine mammal strandings. Rambach said the group rehabilitates animals — primarily seals — along the Maine coast with the intent of releasing them "back where they need to go."
Camden Herald reporter Bane Okholm can be reached at 236-8511 ext. 304 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.