While the main museum is located in downtown Friday Harbor on First Street, across from the Courthouse, The Whale Museum also maintains a research station at Lime Kiln State Park complete with a Listening Station for both study and conservation of our friendly underwater giants. The museum was opened in 1979 as the first museum in the country devoted to a species living in the wild! During your stay at the Tucker House Inn, visit The Whale Museum in Friday Harbor to learn more about whales, practice stewardship, hear about current studies, and of course participate in some whale watching.
Learn About the SRKW
The Southern Resident Killer Whale (SRKW or Orca) forms a tight-knit matriarchal family with a unique bond. The language and behavior of this magnificent creature are distinctive to the region’s resident population, unlike that of other types of Orca whales found in the region and around the world. At the museum, you will be able to visit the genealogy wall, which is a family tree of sorts of the SKRW. You can also learn about the fabric of the Salish Sea from the sea floor to the sky. It’s all connected!
It is important to engage in stewardship and recognize how our behavior affects the SRKW. The Whale Museum in Friday Harbor does a great job at supporting conservation efforts and allowing visitors to engage in a stewardship mindset during their visit. The Whale Museum also shows the interconnectivity of ecosystems and how important each is to wildlife. For example, Friday Harbor’s Canadian neighbors to the north that live more than 500 kilometers from Vancouver, British Columbia, live on rivers where Chinook and other salmon spawn and later feed the Southern residents.
The Whale Museum studies the acoustics and the language of whales. There is a hydrophone 50 feet deep in the water by Lime Kiln Point State Park, and you can listen to the whales at a listening station by the lighthouse, on a closed WiFi network on your portable device, or via short-range FM radio from the parking lot. Researchers like Dr. Jason Wood listen to the normal ambient noise of the water to study any changes. The waters by the lighthouse are surprisingly noisy with the tides and currents constantly shifting and a deep cavern by the lighthouse that is about 1,000 feet deep. Add commercial shipping traffic and the Navy’s sonar testing, and the waters are very noisy. The Friday Harbor Whale Museum is currently studying the effects of this non-natural noise to see how it affects the whales.
Engage in Whale Watching
Lime Kiln Point State Park is one of the best places in the world for shore-based whale watching. Here, you can observe orca whales playing in their living room. In addition to the resident orcas, be sure to look out for transient orcas, humpback, grey and minke whales in addition to the Pacific white-sided dolphin. The Whale Museum’s research station at Lime Kiln Point State Park is open from May through September 15. The Listening Station is accessible year-round. Between picnicking in the park, you can visit with a naturalist or researcher to learn more about whale behavior, listen to their conversation, and observe them in their natural habitat.
Visit the Kids Room
The Kids Room at The Whale Museum in Friday Harbor features many interactive games that combine fun and learning. In the main exhibit hall, a payphone allows kids to listen to different marine animal sounds (Dial “1” for orcas!) and the sound board can be used to identify different sounds while viewing them on the spectrogram. Kids will also enjoy the “Brain Case,” where they can compare the size of a human brain to that of a fin whale to see if brain size equates to intelligence. Kids can also dress up like an orca or salmon and measure their own height against the six-foot dorsal fin of a male orca. The “Pod Nod” is a particular favorite event hosted by The Whale Museum, where kids can sleep over at the museum and learn about whales through crafts, stories, activities and a flashlight tour of the exhibit hall!
From the Whale Museum in Friday Harbor to Tucker House Inn
After a day at The Whale Museum in Friday Harbor learning about the beautiful creatures that inhabit surrounding waters, come back to Tucker House Inn to rest. Then, wake up to a gourmet breakfast rejuvenated and ready to learn more about the area through exploration during your vacation! In the meantime, download our free vacation guide.
Thanks goes out to Jenny Atkinson, The Whale Museum’s executive director, who provided much of the information in this blog!
Photo Credit: Jenny Atkinson (cover), Whale Museum (right)