Who knew that when the carcass of whale No. 0120 was discovered 31 kilometres off the coast of Tofino in 1997 that it would become such a popular teaching tool?
No. 0120 was a female offshore killer whale. Although no cause of death was ever found, researchers with Strawberry Isle Marine Research Society estimates she was older—her teeth are heavily worn, and when discovered her blubber layer was thin.
This Thursday, June 29, 0120 comes to the Alberni Aquarium and Stewardship Centre as part of Strawberry Isle’s Build-A-Whale exhibit. It is the aquarium’s first outside exhibit, says summer staff member Jenny Fortin.
“We are super excited,” Fortin said. “It will be our first exhibit coming in. We did our beaver lodge (out of milk jugs) so we had a practice run showing people what we can provide.”
The aquarium was built with a moveable wall to accommodate displays, and Fortin said the wall will be removed for this exhibit. “Fingers crossed that it’s going to fit in here. It’s a real, live whale skeleton.”
The aquarium staff hopes this will be the first of many exhibits they will be able to bring to the Alberni Valley in the future. It’s one reason why they are running a raffle for a 16-foot boat, motor, trailer and other fishing goodies sponsored by Port Boat House.
Tickets for the raffle are $20 each and will be capped at 4,000 tickets; the draw will take place Sept. 24, which is World Rivers Day.
Volunteers were at the aquarium on Wednesday night practicing their whale building techniques, to prepare for the public exhibit.
The Build-A-Whale interactive educational display will be at the aquarium at Harbour Quay until July 15.