Articulate Humpback Whale finished and on display!

Foss Waterway Seaport Image

14 students, 3 months, a finished articulated whale - a remarkable job!

About the partnership:
The Foss Waterway Seaport entered into a partnership with Tacoma Public Schools to offer an after school marine biology class to Stadium High School students September to December 2016, offering enrolled students the opportunity to articulate, or piece together the remains of a juvenile humpback whale for a permanent display at the Seaport.

The whale, a 23-foot long, juvenile female, washed ashore on a beach near Gig Harbor in December 2015.This whale is the first humpback on record to die in Puget Sound. The Seaport obtained permission from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to retrieve the remains for educational use. 

Jan Adams who had served as Director of Education for the Foss Waterway Seaport for over a decade felt this unique project was a once in a lifetime opportunity for the Seaport and Stadium students. She was thrilled to be able to partner with the school district to offer this unique after school marine biology class. "I feel the students were the most dedicated, the most phenomenal, kids I have ever met. They came in, and whatever project we threw at them, they meticulously got it done and worked very hard. They are impressive students, and listening to them, I think they really enjoyed the class and learned a lot and I believe we all had great fun throughout the articulation process."

Phil Hertzog, Stadium’s articulation coordinator and biology teacher feels that perhaps 50 years from now, students will return to the Seaport with their grandchildren, look up at the display, and tell stories about how they pieced together the Humpback whale.

Rus Higley, Manager of Highline College’s Marine Science Technology Center (MaST), was the project’s technical advisor. Higley has lots of prior experience in articulation gained during his grey whale project assembled at the Seaport and is now hanging at the MaST Center.

This project was completed in three months by 14 students! Students who worked hard, spending 5 hours a week at the Seaport and received credit towards high school graduation for the the articulation project. As part of this marine biology class students enjoyed guest speakers and engaged in activities to better understand marine mammal anatomy and biology. A highlight of Week 1 included observing a marine biologist perform a necropsy on a marine mammal to determine the cause of death. Students also worked with KPFF Engineering Consultants to determine the best way to hang the whale from the Seaport's historic truss system.

Come see our whale and learn more about these magnificant creatures! This noble creature represents a job well done and is titled - Living Free, Our Humpback Whale - why you might ask... Adams explains, "I wanted her to live on, wild, as she had when alive. The students researched and wrote position papers discussing whether the articulated whale should have a name or not - we discusssed the appropriateness of names like 'Sue'. We finally settled on the idea of a title instead of a name and chose: 'Living Free, Our Humpback Whale'. The students wanted to let her be as she was…and so she is in all her glory and splendor suspended from the Seaport’s historic truss system"

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King 5 Evening Magazine

From the Sea to the Seaport our humpback whale hangs from our historic truss thanks to the generosity of so many who helped in making this educational exhibit possible.

Primary Sponsors
Jan and Mike Adams and Jan’s dad, Tom Baer
Tacoma Public Schools
Bill and Mandy Cichanski

“Whale Class”, Stadium High School Articulation Team
Students - Josh Arcena, Dawson Bell, Kieran Chen-Johnson, Polina Chowdhury, Stephanie DeLeon, Kieran Desmarais, Michael Finch, Cassie Lynch, Elizabeth McInnis, Bianca Ponnekanti, Madision Rodriguez, Johanna Steele, Kenna Taylor, Madison Whittaker
Staff - Phil Hertzog, Margaret Walters, Jim Boyd

Technical Advisors
Rus Higley - Highline College’s MaST Center
Randy Williams

Supporting Contributors
Vernon Moore of Research Vessel Sea 3, Stan Macumber of Gig Harbor Auto Body, Darling Ingredients Inc, Chuck Graydon and Tacoma Community Boat Builders, Tacoma Youth Marine Foundation, Aaron Goodge of Toolb0x NW, Jeff Simmons, Jannine Krause, Jessie Huggins, Ian Frank, Jaclyn Akers, Paige Jones - AmeriCorp Member, Fergusson Plumbing Supply, Kaddee Lawrence, Erica Mackenzie, Gabriela Godeck, Valarie Ballena, Matt Wilson, Erik McDonald, Hannah Kenfield, Jacqui Silva, Mark Kerr, Annie Julian, Bri Gabel, Cris Haake, Katy Kachmarik, Kayla Grattan, Jessi Smith, JoAnn Moore, Chris Jendrey, Miranda Pearce, Jack Deeds, Zach Batanian, Tom Ossinger, Excel Electric, Foss Waterway Development Authority, Republic Parking, Metropolitan Market