In 2002, the body of a female killer whale was found stranded near Port Townsend on the North Olympic Peninsula. Just offshore, a healthy, young male hovered close by, refusing gentle attempts to guide him into safer deep water. Although the male orca was saved, it was soon learned that the female’s body carried one of the highest loads of toxic chemicals ever recorded in a marine mammal.
Our education partner, The Port Townsend Marine Science Center, mounted a community effort to study the orca. Local children who learned about her story gave her the name, “Hope.” The Orca Project was established to raise awareness of these remarkable animals, the threats they face, and things we can do to help them survive.
After years of work, PTMSC has opened an incredible new exhibit in the Natural History Building, Learning from Orcas—the Story of Hope. We strongly encourage you to visit.
The exhibit has activities for all ages. The skeleton of Hope was painstakingly cleaned, digitally scanned, and completely re-assembled – and now hangs in the Natural History Building at PTMSC. While working with scientists researching her death and preparing her skeleton for display, PTMSC learned many things about this whale and the community of orcas living along our coast.
Some of the fun things you can do at the exhibit include:
- Skeleton Articulation
Watch PTMSC staff and volunteers assembling Hope’s skeleton, step by exciting step.
- Orca Bone Atlas
Examine digital scans of every bone in Hope’s body, using the first ever online Orca Bone Atlas.
- Listen to Orcas
PTMSC and other OrcaSound hydrophone stations are recording orca sounds underwater. Listen in!
- Contaminants in Orcas
Learn about chemicals that today’s orcas exposed are exposed to – and where they are coming from.
Visit the Port Townsend Marine Science Center’s website for exhibit hours and more information. Guests on our tours in 2013 will receive a voucher for 50% off exhibit admission.
Each fall, we haul our boats out of the water to give them a complete overhaul. We are beyond fortunate to be located in one of the nation’s finest ports for boat building and maintenance - Port Townsend.
The fine folks at the Port Townsend Shipwrights Co-op recently posted a very beautiful photo essay of the folks working to make the Glacier Spirit look and run terrific. Here’s a photo of Captain Pete looking dapper even in his painting gear!
Read the entire blog post and explore more of the great work the Co-op does for boats from around the nation.
This holiday season, enjoy something a little out of the ordinary with Puget Sound Express.
For 4 nights only – December 8, 15, 22, and 23, we are offering special trips from Port Townsend to downtown Seattle and Lake Washington to take part in the “Christmas Ship Parade.” This is the 15th year we’ve participated, and the Parade is a favorite with our family and customers.
We pick the dates that are the most popular, so that you are sure to get a good show.
On board the Glacier Spirit, we enjoy some warm soup with fresh baked bread while enjoying Christmas carols and great company. Once in Seattle, we join the Parade by the waterfront soaking up the sights and sounds of the choir singing from the ‘Christmas Ship.’
Protection Island National Wildlife Refuge is home to breeding, nesting, and flyway populations of close to 100 marine bird species at different times of the year. Approximately 70 percent of the nesting seabirds in our inland waters nest here, including the largest nesting colony of rhinoceros auklets in the world.
Join Puget Sound Express and the Port Townsend Marine Science Center for our popular Fall Bird Migration cruises October 6 and 13, 2012. We will head to Protection Island, leaving at 1pm, and returning around 4pm.
- Call Port Townsend Marine Science Center to reserve (360-385-5582)
The island contains one of the last 2 nesting colonies of tufted puffins in the Puget Sound area. About 1,000 harbor seals use the island as a pupping and rest area, and elephant seals often haul out to molt there during the summer. We have been leading seasonal wildlife cruises to view the changing community of birds and mammals using the sanctuary since 1984. Our cruises are hosted by seasoned naturalist Roger Risley, who provides excellent commentary on the natural history of the island and the wildlife sighted.
On these cruises we might see loons, phalaropes, mergansers, merlins, bald eagles, aukets oystercatchers, harlequin ducks, murrelets, and many other migrating and resident species. Over 85 bird species and 8 mammal species are regularly sighted on our cruises.