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.