My name is Holly Weinstein and I’m the AmeriCorps Volunteer Program Educator at the Port Townsend Marine Science Center. My service has many facets including helping to manage our center’s volunteer program, delivering educational programs and information to a variety of audiences and coordinating marine mammal stranding response in my area.
This story begins the day before my first day of service and involves a young humpback whale. The day before my first day of service, as I was moving into my new home, I was informed that a young humpback whale, with signs of previous entanglement, had stranded alive nearby. I was able to visit the whale with my new co-workers; unfortunately there was nothing we could do to help at that time. Its breathing was labored and very sadly it died that night. This was a very hard sight to see, and our way of helping, as biologists and educators, is to learn from this whale and educate the public in order to help humpbacks and other marine animals in the future.
My first day of service at the Center, I was able to assist with the whale’s necropsy. Following the examination, some of its bones were taken to be used as educational specimens. First, we made a painted flipper print of one of its pectoral fins for our museum collection. The print shows the details of the fin including barnacles, a hole and various scarring. We then tied the fin up in netting and hung it over our pier along with a rib, a few vertebrae, and its scapula. Once they are naturally cleaned of tissue, we will be able to share them with the public and discuss this whale’s story and ways to help humpback whales thrive.
My service in AmeriCorps so far has been extremely impactful and I have learned so much about marine mammal stranding and marine science education. I hope to continue learning and discovering ways of combining these focus areas professionally.