Right Whale Day at New Bedford Whaling Museum
We have been lucky enough to have Emily Ryane Moss return this winter as second year intern. Emily has been working on many different projects this winter and I’m sure you will hear much about her in the future, but this week she’s blogging about the joys of Right Whale Day at the New Bedford Whaling Museum:
Back in 2007, WDC and Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary were lucky enough to enlist students from Falmouth and New Bedford Vocational High Schools to help build two life-size inflatable right whales. Using garden tarps and lots of tape, the inflatable whales are built to the actual measurements of a real-life right whale, named Delilah, who was killed by a vessel strike. Since then, more than 6,000 students have entered Delilah to learn about right whales and what they can do to ensure them a safe future. She has traveled to Canada, Georgia, Rhode Island and throughout Massachusetts. Like her namesake, Delilah symbolizes not only the threats, but the hope for this species.
On Monday, we brought Delilah to the Right Whale Day celebration at the New Bedford Whaling Museum. I love events that we get to take Delilah to because she captures the children’s imaginations and gets them excited. It also allows us the opportunity to teach in a different way. For example, one of the highlights of my day was convincing nine children that we just had to lay down, head to foot in a line, to see how many of us it would take to equal Delilah’s length…. and we still weren’t long enough! Sometimes kids just have a good time doing silly things, like spinning in circles….because everything is more fun inside a whale! Other times they are really curious about who Delilah was and want to hear more about the biology and natural history of whales. Either way, Delilah inspires awe and appreciation for not only her species, but all whales.
One of the other things that I loved about Right Whale Day at the New Bedford Whaling Museum is that a number of different organizations that work to keep right whales safe and protected get to come together to educate. And of course, I get to be impressed and awed by the children, not just by how much fun they are having, but also by how much they remember about what they have previously learned about whales. Whether it was something they learned in school (even last year) or at a visit at the museum a few months ago, the children really retain so many facts, stories, and information about whales. I enjoyed talking to all the kids about which types of whales were their favorite and why. They were also full of questions, ranging from whether dolphins and whales were related (great question) to what type of plankton right whales feed on and how baleen works.
Events like this also give us a great opportunity to talk to people about how endangered North Atlantic right whales are, the threats they face and what we can all do to help. We had a great response from people wanting to get involved; people signed petitions and asked what more they could do. It was really heartening to see how interested people are in making a difference and saving this majestic species from extinction. We are hoping that you can follow in their footsteps- sign our petition and then tell your friends all about the issues they face.