Skeleton Articulation Class & Kenai Peninsula College - UAA

The local branch of the Kenai Peninsula College of the University of Alaska made a major score by hiring Professor Debbie Tobin for Marine Science classes. She also is a major player in the local marine mammal stranding network. Besides documenting and helping with necropsies, she, with her students and local volunteers, had collected bones from a gray whale and a complete Bering Sea beaked whale skeleton (I got to help). This led to various other marine mammals over the years being collected, necropsied, and the skeletons cleaned, usually by composting in horse manure.

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Professor Deborah Tobin
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Professor Deborah Tobin
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Necropsy time
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Necropsy
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Burying the whale skeleton
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Unearthing the whale skull
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Archaeological dig
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Skull of the gray whale.
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Gray whale flipper bones.
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Skeleton Articulation Class - UAA

I teach a skeleton articulation class at the local branch of the Kenai Peninsula College of the University of Alaska. Debbie was typically too frantically busy (as were her students), to ever get very far in the articulation of any of these cleaned skeletons. So I offered to help her with an articulation class and she turned it around and instead offered to help me if I would teach one. So in the fall of 2014, I signed up to be an adjunct teacher for a one-credit class called Marine Skeleton Articulation Class - not really thinking I'd get enough students. Instead, it filled to overflowing with thirteen students. Seven of them were from out-of-state and were here for The Semester By the Bay Program that Debbie piloted for the KPC.

We had a 14-foot young female Stejnengers beaked whale we had collected and cleaned a few years prior. The big unknown was if nine, three-hour classes was enough time to get the whale built. It wasn't. But it got done anyway because many students started coming in on Saturdays and other open time slots to work on the skeleton. Time for formal teaching was limited to a couple lessons and note-taking opportunities were even more rushed. But on December 5, 2014, the whale was carried down the hall and suspended from a beam in the student services room. The whale, named Fancy, swims again. The class has been continued for the following 4 years.

 

Click here to see an article from the Homer News regarding this class.

             * * * A special thank you to Michael Armstrong for the use of a few of his photos as indicated below. * * *     

Following are photos taken from the first class.

Click on the first photo to start a slide show.  There are a lot more photos than just these nine.
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The Articulation Begins
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The following photos are of the finished skeletons from different years.
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Sea Otter
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Orca
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Orca
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Harbor Seal
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Harbor Seal
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Beaked Whale
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Beluga
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Beluga
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Sea Lion (Woody)
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Click the link below to see a timelapsed video of the sea lion articulation.
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