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Sea Turtle Skeleton Project

I received an email from a lady wanting to assemble a sea turtle skeleton, and I sent her what illustrations I had - End of story. . . . Until. . .​


In the spring of 2011 I received another email from this same person asking, essentially, if she showed up in Alaska with the turtle skeleton, would there be a time I could articulate it or help her articulate it? It was going to be a busy summer for me, but I had one week in August that could conceivably work. I wasn't totally confident I would want to invite a total stranger to work with me for a week. While I've never had a disastrous project due to personality issues, there is always a first time. After hearing how attached this person was to those bones (this was her baby), combined with her determination to get the skeleton assembled, I invited her to come on up.

Joanie Sarno, a science teacher from New Jersey, made arrangements, showed up, and in five extended days, we got the turtle skeleton assembled. This had to be the most difficult skeleton I've ever worked on! The bones were weird. Many of the pieces did not match anything I am familiar with in any other animal skeletons I have done! Some of the bones "float" other bone sections articulate to each other but it wasn't obvious how they attached to the rest of the skeleton! The upper shell was composed of about 45 pieces. Some of those pieces fastened to 4 - 6 other bones. Some of the big shell sections were warped and a few pieces were totally missing. Joanie had fabricated many of the missing pieces ahead of time, others were sculpted during the assembly. It helped a lot that Joanie had become so intimately familiar with the individual bones. She had previously made a good attempt at assembling this on her own before giving up and taking it back apart. When the turtle (which we keyed out to be a loggerhead sea turtle) was completed, we took it to the bookstore where I work, and it immediately attracted a crowd. One observer asked, with all seriousness, if we were going to let it go on the beach. . .No . . . But we did take it for a romp on an Alaskan beach before we crated it up to be sent back to New Jersey where it will be displayed in Joanie's school. The turtle is swimming on display at the William Davies Middle School in Mays Landing, New Jersey.

Bone of a logger-head sea turtle
Completed logger-head turtle skeleton
loggerhead sea turtle skeleton
Bones of a logger-head turtle
Logger-head turtle skeleton
loggerhead sea turtle skeleton
loggerhead sea turtle skeleton on the beach
loggerhead sea turtle skeleton and friend
loggerhead sea turtle skeleton
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