Students explore life-size replica of humpback whale

La Gloria Elementary students prepare to step inside Dee, a 43-foot life-size whale replica that took up an entire side of the school’s cafeteria. (Photos by Samantha Bengtson)

GONZALES — A life-size replica of a humpback whale arrived in Gonzales last Monday for students at La Gloria Elementary to explore and learn more about ocean life.

The whale, named Dee, is a 43-foot life-size replica of a humpback whale with organs for students to learn more about the inter workings of ocean mammals.

According to one of the marine biologists, whales have three stomachs, a heart and a giant mouth to swallow food and water.

The display was available to after-school students on April 1 through the after-school program.

“It was awesome,” said After-School Program Coordinator Julie Douglas. “I’m really glad I had the opportunity to bring it to the children.”

Douglas had been working with Amanda Good from Save the Whales on different ideas before Dee arrived at La Gloria.

Good had traveled to Gonzales previously with other displays and contacted Douglas about the opportunity with the whale.

The students were able to see the inside of the whale, including it’s organs  and learn that whale anatomy has similar qualities to humans.

Unfortunately, whales can sometimes mistake things like plastic balloons as food and can result in the mammal choking. To ensure that this does not happen, the marine biologists spoke about popping balloons before throwing them away.

Students from kindergarten to fourth grade were able to see the krill that whales eat, while another table gave them the chance to see video of whales eating and listen to the sounds they make.

The display is under the direction of Save the Whales, a nonprofit organization formed in 1977. The focus is to educate the public about marine mammals and the ocean environment.

La Gloria Elementary students prepare to step inside Dee, a 43-foot life-size whale replica that took up an entire side of the school’s cafeteria. (Photos by Samantha Bengtson)


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