News Release Archive

The Fisheries Museum of the Atlantic is preparing for a "Whale of
a Day" on Nova Scotia Museums' Day, Saturday, July 13.

Visitors can find out everything they ever wanted to know about
the earth's greatest mammal. Various films about whales will be
showing throughout the day in the theatre on the third floor of
the museum.

Whale Room on the main floor is guaranteed to be a busy place.
There visitors can see a real whale's vertebrae, (it looks like a
funny but comfortable stool). Nova Scotian scrimshaw artist,
Kevin Neil, will be giving demonstrations of this folk craft from
10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Visitors can try their hand at scrimshaw and
decorate their own "fakeshaw", that's fake whale's tooth.

Scrimshaw dates back to the golden age of American whaling, 1815
- 1865. During these years roughly 200,000 American whalers
sailed the would's seas in search of the massive animals.

In demand were the blubber, boiled into oil on the ship and the
baleen. The oil was used for fuel, candles and soap and the
baleen was used for everything from buggy whips to corset stays.

It could take up to four years for the ship to fill its hold with
bones and oil. The whalers needed a way to wile away the time so
they turned to scrimshaw. They had everything they needed for the
craft at hand. They uses their jackknives or sail needles to
carve designs and images into the ivory of whale teeth, or whale

Toothed whales such as sperm whales have teeth only in their
lower jaws. One unspoken law among whalers was that the lower jaw
of a toothed whale belonged to the crew. A sperm whale for
example has an average of 50 teeth and a ship carried at least 24
crew members, almost two teeth per whaler.

On Museums' Day at the Fisheries Museum of the Atlantic visitors
will be provided with all the material to try their hand at the


Contact: Joan Waldron     902-424-7398

         Emma McKennirey  902-424-6435

trp                   July 08, 1996 - 10:30 a.m.