Kissing the Cod!

Posted: May 13, 2014 - 09:37 , by ROM
Nature, Biodiversity, Natural History, Research | Comments () | Comment
A close up shot of the blue whales baleen.

By Jacqueline Waters

Environmental Visual Communication graduate (2013),

For the Centre of Discovery in Biodiversity, Royal Ontario Museum

Well it’s official we’ve been screeched in and the team and I are all now honorary Newfoundlanders. Despite having to kiss the cod, being welcomed in the traditional fashion by the people of Trout River and Woody Point has really meant a lot to each of us.  Laughs have been had and new friendships have been made.  Here in town, we’re referred to as “the whalers” and Mark Engstrom has become somewhat of a local celebrity. When being introduced to Doris, my B&B host, she asked him if he was indeed “the Mark”.

A man works to remove meat from the blue whale carcass.

Down at the site, the team has had two brutal days in the icy rain, wind, and hail, so we were all happy today when we woke up to sunshine. After 6 days of solid work, one whale is almost complete, and there is just one more day of work to go. Throughout the entire process the whale itself has never ceased to amaze me. When we finally pulled part of the aorta out on day 4 I couldn’t believe its size. I could have put my entire head through it. However, the revealing of the jawbones today was truly spectacular.

A man clad in a rain suit stands in the mouth of the whale.

We’ve been excited to see the responses from people following @ROMBiodiversity on twitter. We really wanted everyone to experience this with us, and see the entire process in real-time. Responses have been positive, and are testament to the need for and appreciation of natural history museums. This experience has been truly inspiring as I move forward in my career: a once in a lifetime opportunity that I’ve enjoyed every minute of. I’m excited to see where the future takes me as an environmental communicator.

Five people in rain suits work on the whale carcass in the rain.

I will depart from Newfoundland early Thursday morning after spending a little over a week in Trout River It will be a bittersweet departure having to say goodbye to the team and the local people. However, I’ll be happy to be home in clothes that don’t smell like dead whale. I will definitely miss my morning meals with Doris and Tom and our lunches in Woody Point, where, despite our smell, we are always welcome. Thanks to everyone who made our experience so wonderful, it was a home away from home. Till next time Newfoundland, and long may your big jib draw!