New ad­di­tion

David Boyd com­pletes a spe­cial project at Prime Berth Fish­ery & Her­itage Cen­tre.

The Pilot - - Front Page - BY KAREN WELLS kwells@pi­

TWILLINGATE, NL — As you ap­proach the cause­way head­ing to­wards Twillingate, in your line of sight is the Prime Berth Twillingate Fish­ery & Her­itage Cen­tre, along with a dis­play fea­tur­ing a 52-foot sei whale.

In ad­di­tion, you can now see a sec­ond 32-foot long sei whale skele­ton on dis­play.

Prime Berth owner/op­er­a­tor David Boyd sin­gle-hand­edly pre­pared the whale car­casses and as­sem­bled the bones one by one on both skele­tons.

It all started in 2006 when Boyd heard about a sei whale that had died in For­tune Har­bour. He towed the car­cass some 30 miles back to the Prime Berth and then to an area near Trump Is­land, where he built an en­clo­sure and sub­merged the car­cass as best he could for three years. Gases from the de­com­po­si­tion of the whale kept it from be­ing to­tally sub­merged.

In 2010 Boyd re­trieved the bones from the “blub­bery mess,” cleaned and re­assem­bled them for dis­play.

Fast-for­ward to 2016. Boyd, who also of­fers tours, had a group of tourists from Africa with him at Trump Is­land. He spot­ted a cou­ple of foxes on the beach, and while mov­ing in closer to al­low his guests to take some pho­tos, noted a de­ceased whale just off the beach.

“It was skinny, it had very lit­tle fat,” he said. “It had sank to the bot­tom with just a fin stick­ing out of the wa­ter.”

Boyd con­tacted the De­part­ment of Fish­eries and Oceans to re­port the whale car­cass. He also asked if it was OK for him to re­trieve the whale, and con­sent was given. He towed the whale back to an area near the Prime Berth in Au­gust of 2016. One year later he was able to re­trieve the bones and clean them up and once again start the process of re­assem­bling the skele­ton.

It is a painstak­ing process of mea­sur­ing each bone and putting it to­gether cor­rectly.

“The process was a bit eas­ier this time, but it’s a bit like a puz­zle,” he said.

Boyd fabri­cated the metal stands that hold the skele­tal re­mains of both whales. In to­tal it cost Boyd less than $1,000 to re­con­struct both skele­tons, along with the many hours he put in.

The first whale was a male and the sec­ond is thought to be a fe­male.

Boyd also has full racks of baleen from the whales on dis­play.

While Boyd en­cour­ages peo­ple to visit Prime Berth to get an up-close look at the sei whale skele­tons, his hope is that while peo­ple are there they will be­come in­formed and ex­pe­ri­ence in some way his love and pas­sion for the tra­di­tional way of life and cul­ture he ex­pe­ri­enced grow­ing up in Tiz­zard’s Har­bour and fish­ing with his fa­ther.

“We want to show peo­ple the kind of life we had in New­found­land that’s gone by the way­side,” he said.

Boyd has wel­comed over 1,200 mo­tor coaches over the last 23 years, giv­ing them a snap­shot into a way of life with a cod split­ting demon­stra­tion. In 2016 they wel­comed over 90 mo­tor coaches and they al­ready have book­ings for 2018, many of them be­ing re­turn tours.

“We are ob­vi­ously do­ing our part for the tourism pic­ture in Twillingate,” he said.


The Prime Berth Twillingate Fish­ery & Her­itage Cen­tre fea­tures two sei whale skele­tons on dis­play.

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