Tasman Leader : July 2nd 2015
THURSDAY, JULY 2, 2015 Thomson heads to the Globe Page 11 Golden Bay’s streetside whale By HELEN MURDOCH Alan McLean and Collingwood Area School student Pearl Maddock dissecting a pectoral fin from the pilot whale which is destined for display at the Golden Bay Museum. Photo: SUPPLIED/ALAN McLEAN/FAIRFAX NZ A mock-up concept of the planned whale skeleton display on the front deck of the Golden Bay Museum. Photo: SUPPLIED/ GOLDEN BAY MUSEUM/FAIRFAX NZ Alan McLean’s onto his second set of whale bones. Half of the first whale is stored the hallway of his Golden Bay home, but it’s too stained to make the final planned display at the town’s museum. The electrician has taken on the mam- moth task of cleaning a set of pilot whale bones to educate people and illustrate the essence of the environment the community lives in and relies on, based on whales. The project is owned by the Golden Bay Museum, which is enclosing its front deck to display the whale skeleton, along with information about strandings on Farewells Spit, behind glass. The museum would like to have the project complete by October, in time for its 25th anniversary. Meanwhile it’s up to McLean to clean and prepare the bones, something he does in his spare time out of a container stored at Rockville, with the occasional help from students at Collingwood Area School. However, McLean said it’s taken a bit longer than anticipated after the bones of the first skeleton, a pilot whale exhumed last year from burial after a mass stranding on Farewell Spit, stained badly. In February, McLean headed to the spit again to select another whale that had been among a pod which had stranded and died. Again the whale was buried, the plot fenced and McLean returned, with helpers, after an appropriate period to remove the bones from the decomposing flesh. These bones are now soaking in baths stored in the container to extract the natu- ral oils. McLean even took a flipper along to Collingwood Area School’s senior science class to dissect, study and then return the bones. ‘‘There has been a lot of help from various people in the bay,’’ he said. And beyond. McLean has been in touch with experts in Alaska, Okarito, Otago and the Netherlands for advice. And he has worked extensively with the Department of Conservation, Manawhenua ki Mohua and the Collingwood and Golden Bay museum societies. ‘‘It’s all about keeping in touch with everyone so there are no surprises.’’ But for McLean the project is worth every hour. People can see him at work during steam-up days at the Rockville Machinery and Settlers Museum, or when he creaks open his container doors to school visits. McLean is keen on interacting with the community, and particularly young people, on the project. Such was the case when a four-year-old boy approached McLean one day clutching a small toy whale. ‘‘I thanked him for bringing his whale. ‘‘Hesaidhehadabagofthem–andhe had some questions for me. ‘‘And I thought . . . this is worth it.’’ ‘‘Paeroa has a giant plastic drink bottle, Rakaia has a salmon – Golden Bay is going to have a pilot whale.’’ Golden Bay Museum chairwoman Penny Griffith said the project would see the museum’s front deck enclosed to provide a protruding ‘‘whalery’’ display area for the skeleton. ‘‘It’s going to give the museum a strong street presence, make better use of the space and give better access to the museum.’’ Plans for the project had been prepared, and paid for, and the museum was now focussing on raising $60,000 for the con- struction and a further $15,000 to refund McLean for some of his work. Griffith said only three museums in New Zealand held whale skeletons. Most skeletons were huge and displayed in cen- tral city museums. ‘‘For a little museum to take on a project like this is very special. That gives a feel of the complexity of the task of preparation, which is normally done by specialists.’’ She said the idea of being able to see a pilot whale skeleton displayed on the edge of Takaka’s Commercial St was exciting for the community. The Golden Bay Community Board was supportive, and had allocated $1000 to the project. Tasman District Council and DOC also supported the project. Golden Bay Quilters was donating its raffle proceeds. Griffith said the museum planned to apply for grants, run raffles and stalls and launch a givealittle page and hoped to have the necessary funds raised by the end of October, to coincide with the museum’s 25th anniversary. See more at goldenbaymuseum.org.nz.
June 25th 2015