M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust
A group of people, many wearing matching blue t-shirts, pose by a large whale fossil by the sea.
Team Gray Whale, a group of dedicated Port Townsend Marine Science Center volunteers who helped reclaim the bones of a gray whale that died in the Puget Sound in 2016.

Last September, locals gathered in Port Townsend, Washington, to watch the daylighting of a juvenile female gray whale skeleton. The process of daylighting involves airing bones in the sunshine to bleach them and kill bacteria as a means of preserving them.

The whale had died a year prior from a collapsed lung in Elliott Bay in Seattle, and a group of Port Townsend Marine Science Center (PTMSC) volunteers worked with the Navy to bring the whale in from where it was found. The process of articulating a skeleton is long and requires diverse skills from scientists and volunteers. After controlled decomposition of the carcass for more than a year, the bones were dried. Daylighting was the final step in the preservation process.

The gray whale will join an orca skeleton in PTMSC’s museum to educate the public about threats gray whales face and what can be done to help with their survival and the conservation of their habitat. The Murdock Trust is proud to partner with PTMSC in this important education and conservation mission.

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