Grey Whale exhibit one step closer as remains exhumed from Beecher Bay

Yup, we did it – check out our preliminary timelapse above. and more information below

VIU RELEASE: 2014/32  FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Thursday, June 12, 2014

NANAIMO, BC: The once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to assemble 145 bones of a 10-metre long, 20-plus tonne gray whale into a world class exhibit at Vancouver Island University’s (VIU) Deep Bay Marine Field Station is now one step closer with the recovery of the bones this past weekend.

Photos  documenting the whale exhumation process at Beecher Bay on June 7 was created by Station Manager Brian Kingzett and a subset are shown below, the entire collection are  available

“The dig went incredibly well thanks to an amazing team of volunteers,” says Kingzett. “There really is a community coming together around this project and I am so proud to be facilitating it. VIU and the Field Station are all about partnerships with communities on Vancouver Island, and this project is becoming a great representation in so many ways. Last weekend, the exhumation process was a lot of work and everyone was so happy and worked so hard.”

The bones have been inventoried and are now drying in a shipping container at the Field Station. “We’ll soon start the next phase of the project and hope to complete our educational marine exhibit within six to eight months,” adds Kingzett. “We’d like to thank all of our donors that have joined us so far in this project through our ‘buy a bone’ campaign in helping us raise more than $55,900 of our $75,000 goal.

“We also want to recognize the Underwater Harvesters Association as the lead donor of the exhibit and Jamie’s Whaling Station for their support of all 23 of the caudal vertebrae.”

Kingzett says there is still time for the public to get involved in this exciting project as 25 bones are available for as little as $200. All purchasers will receive a certificate of “bone ownership” signed by Dr. Ralph Nilson, VIU President and Vice-Chancellor, name recognition at the Deep Bay exhibit and an invitation to the exhibit preview party.  The completed skeleton will weigh approximately 2,000 pounds and will hang from the ceiling as a highlight of the Deep Bay Marine Field Station’s public education program.

To watch an overview video on the project please visit To purchase a bone and inspire generations, go to or contact Deep Bay at 250.740.6611 or or David Forrester in the VIU Advancement Office at 250.740.6214 or

We’d really like to thank the following:

  • Mike, Michi and Ken for keeping the process meticulous and making sure everything was organized and labelled and all the planning
  • Sharon Cooper for being the person who made this happen in the first place and continuing to ensure that we respect First Nations tradition and helping us honour this animal.
  • Chief Russ Chipps a for providing blessings and for allowing us to use the Scia’New Reserve
  • Donny Jay for being so skilled and accommodating with the excavators, his skill in burying the whale in the first place I believe had much to do with why this was such a pleasant job!
  • Spirit Bay Development (Trisha, Darlene and David) for providing us all with lunches
  • Bill Pennell for dedicated photography
  • Stephanie Dunlop – Fire Chief of Metchosin (and now rib owner) for providing us with pressure washing water, it may not seem like much but it was a huge deal in the planning
  • Bob (Mike’s Father) for a full day of skilled pressure washing and his wife whose name I have lost for helping with everything
  • Barb, Michelle, Denise, Jenny, Kayla, Claire, Frank, Ralph, Deb, Neal, Dave, Candace, Dylan, Nadine, Kathryn, Bob, Pat and those whose names I have missed for getting right in there into the muck and doing such a great job of finding every single last bone and then cleaning them so well.

Media from the weekend includes:

CTV News:

Times Colonist Article:

Sooke Mews Mirror:

CNC Radio Interview:

Photo Essay of the weekend below


Lead volunteer Ken with Michi and Mike of Cetacea Contracting


First exposing the skull and mandibles


Scia’New Chief Russell Chipps and Sharon Cooper perform a blessing.


Everyone literally “digging in”


Claire Vial at the skull with scapula and humerus visible.


Finding the vestigial pelvic bones! (whew)
One of our great Saturday volunteers was Dr. Ralph Nilson, President of VIU 🙂


Decomposition was more than we expected (great) but there was still some organics left. Claire holding some rotting baleen


One by one all bones were carefully removed.


Exposing the entire skeleton.


Volunteer Barb on the hunt for the smallest Caudal (tail) Vertebrae


Time for a Whale selfie!

As the weekend progresses more and more becomes exposed

Carefully washing the bones as they come out of the pit.


Everything getting carefully pressure washed before packing.


bones on the tarp for sorting
Michelle and Denise carefully pulling some large vertebrae


Sharon Cooper doing an interview for CTV.
Many hands


The skull removed from the pit but still dirty.


A group photo on end of day 1.
Group photo day 2

Carefully inventorying and labeling each bone as it comes out.


Brian talking on camera


On Monday, we unpacked re-inventoried everything and then put away
In storage at Deep Bay
And we tried some human versus whale comparisons…..
Mike doing some final skull cleaning.


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