A shark-eating killer whale skeleton made its debut in Prince Rupert over the weekend at the 2nd annual North Coast Ecology Centre Society Whale Festival.
Children had the opportunity to piece together the whale, bone by bone, from inside the Prince Rupert Convention Centre on May 11.
The two-day festival started on Saturday, featured an opening ceremony performance by the Northern Lights Dancers, a chance for the kids to build a whale and the Chowder and Dance Party fundraiser on Saturday evening.
On Sunday, mothers watch a free screening of the “Humpback Whale Documentary” narrated by two-time Golden Globe nominee Ewan McGregor.
Festival co-organizers Karina Dracott and Caitlin Birdsall said there had been a good turnout for the event and that it was great to see so many people and families come out to learn about whale bones and skeletons.
Michelle Segal and Cierra Hart of Strawberry Isle Marine Research society travelled from Tofino and were on hand for the Build-a-Whale interactive program, helping children learn all about killer whales.
The Build-A-Whale program aims to educate participants about marine biology, anatomy, evolutionary science and conservation, and provides hands-on learning experiences, from interactive displays and stands to a full-size killer whale skeleton that children build.
Segal said that the sense of collaboration and comradery had blown her away. “I am so happy that we were invited here to the Whale Festival by the North Coast Ecology Centre Society,” Segal said.
The killer whale was found in 1997 in Tofino, where researchers performed a necropsy, studied and then preserved the bones. Segal said they discovered it was a shark-eating killer whale, which is rare. After Whale Fest, the Strawberry Isle Marine Research Society will be travelling with the skeleton across communities and schools in the northwest.
Fisheries and Ocean Canada (DFO) field supervisor Clarence Nelson, who attended the event along with fishery officers Jesse Risto and Katriona Day, said the event was very well organized.
“It’s great to see professionals from the area sharing the same goal; public awareness and education,” Nelson said.