Some plaster jackets are bigger than others...
Florida Fossil Hunters have a WHALE of a good time! Brevard County, Florida
The following is the text of the Orlando Sentinel article (from Local and
State) dated Sunday, July 30, 1995. By Brad Kuhn
MELBOURNE - Shamu it's not, but Brevard County may soon have its own whale
of a tourist attraction. Construction workers digging a retention pond at
the county landfill on Soarno Road unearthed the fossilized skull of a baleen
That's big news for a group of Central Florida fossil hunters, who say it
could be one of the biggest fossil finds in the state. "It's something
that you won't see often," said Dean Sligh, chairman and founder of Florida
Fossil Hunters of Orlando. "We usually have two or three digs a month,
but nothing of this caliber."
The 5-foot skull, a rib bone and forelimb were discovered Wdnesday by Ray
Futch, project foreman for Prince Contracting Co. of Palmetto. "I saw
a little black place and began digging around it," he said. "After
about an hour or so, I could tell it was big. So I roped it off and told everybody
to stay away from it." Construction was diverted from the immediate area
of the find to other parts of the project, while project managers decided
what to do with the behemoth.
In the construction business, a historical find means a potentially costly
delay. It is not unusual for a developer to keep such finds quiet, to avoid
public scrutiny. In this case, project manager B. Fritz Von Bargen of Post,
Buckley, Schuh and Jernigan Inc. and Dick Gosselin, the county's construction
coordinator, decided to contact the Florida State Museum in Gainesville. "I've
got to admit, though, when we first saw it, the thought [of burying it] crossed
our minds," Gosselin said.
Museum officials contacted Sligh, who rallied club members for a weekend
dig. Saturday, eight club members with shovels, buckets, plaster and trenching
tools braved the rain to unearth their find. Early fascination turned to frustration
by midday as the group began to realize the magnitude of excavating a 50-foot
whale with hand tools. Prince contracting chipped in, donating the use of
a backhoe to make afternoon digging easier.
Time is short. Although the county has temporarily shifted work away from
the area of the find, Gosselin said they will be ready to resume in about
two weeks. Members of the Florida Fossil Hunters have full-time jobs that
keep them from the task during the week, forcing them to pull marathon weekend
The skull, which has been buried for thousands of years was already beginning
to crack as it dried. Sligh said the group plans to clean and preserve it
as quickly as possible. The dig site is in a secured construction area that
is not open to the public. But Sligh said he hopes to display the find at
the club's annual fossil fair at the Central Florida Fairgrounds in November.
After that, plans call for it to be displayed at the Brevard County Museum.
As owner of the land where the whale bones were discovered, the county will
own the fossils.
Unlike Shamu, its meat eating cousin, the baleen whale is toothless. These
giant vegetarians eat by smiling and allowing water to pass through a giant
grillwork called baleen. Such whales are among the biggest creatures in the
world. Sligh said it is not unusual to find whales inland. "Dug out a
piece of whale the size of a dinner plate in Winter Garden last week,"
he said. But rarely do fossil-hunters find such large pieces intact. "Depending
on how much is there, I think this could be one of the largest fossils ever
found in Florida," he said
By midday the group had uncovered most of the whale's head and were searching
for its backbone. They planned to wrap up about dinner time, but Sligh said
plans could change if something turned up. "If we find more of the skeleton,
they'll probably have to chase us off with nightsticks."
as described above don't happen every weekend, but if you don't look you will
not find! That is what the Florida Fossil Hunters is all about. A group of
work-a-day individuals who LOVE to get out in the field as much as possible.
Weekends, holidays, vacations... ANY TIME WE CAN!!!
Click here to Check the
Status of the Peace River depth
wish to find vertebrate fossils on Florida State lands, including all navigable
rivers, you will first need to obtain a very inexpensive permit!
here for information on how
to apply for a permit