Sea Lion Skeleton Projects - Fort Bragg CA

In July 2015, I was invited to go to Fort Bragg, California, to help articulate a couple sea lion skeletons for the NOYO Center for Marine Science. I had never before met the director, Sheila Seamans, and was going to be working with Mike DeRoos and his wife Michi Main, who are the top skeleton articulation specialists in Canada. (I had met Mike once before in Victoria, BC, as he was working on an 85-foot-long blue whale skeleton that came out as probably the nicest blue whale skeleton ever put on display. It is now at the Beaty Museum of Bio-Diversity in Vancouver, BC.). Mike and Michi and family were all there, and between everyone, it was a dream team bone building experience.

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Fort Bragg is a small coastal town. A town harder to get to than my hometown of Homer, Alaska! It took three plane rides and a two-hour drive to get there from Homer. Fort Bragg is a similar sized town to the one I live in. It had many of the same ingredients; interesting, ambitious, talented people, a small town can-do mentality, and a marine science center director with a volunteer magnet personality (And what a magnet! The volunteers showed up one right after another!)

We had two sea lion skeletons to do. An adult male California sea lion and a sub-adult, female Steller sea lion, both found dead in the local area (one having been shot multiple times) - we had over two dozen volunteers actively working on the skeleton with us. They ranged from interns and docents to students and parents, to business owners and curious pedestrians who wandered by. Our workshop was an old community gymnasium attached to the city hall. The mayor frequently came by, a state senator visited, and lots of curious people popped in. With such good helpers, we got both skeletons finished within the eleven days.