What a whale!

Children visiting the Navarre Beach Marine Science Station are being greeted by one massive new friend.

Diana the humpback whale has made her debut, and she is awesome!

Diana is a life-size inflatable model that the science station will be using to teach lessons about marine mammals. Composed of plastic, tape, paint and hours of hard work, she was built by the science station’s students who dual enroll from our local high school.

These smart kiddo’s gave up their Thanksgiving break to create Diana. These kids put in countless hours and it shows.

She’s just so cool.

But the best part is yet to be revealed. On the outside Diana is a lifelike version of her ocean-dwelling cousins, but on the inside she’s even more. Students can enter through a door on the side of this inflatable learning lab where they will be greeted by a realistic skeletal structure painted along the walls.

Visitors can count Diana’s ribs, learn about her diet, hold a real humpback whale “tooth” and even learn the words to the Whale Rap (which I highly recommend you look up on YouTube as soon as possible).

When Diana is not teaching children at the science station, she will be taking her show on the road. She deflates to the size of a suitcase, and she will likely be a showstopper as she travels with the science station’s Discovery Depot to area festivals.

Come check her out!

Here are a few fun facts about humpback whales that I learned thanks to Diana:

  1. The scientific name for this species is Megaptera Novaeangliae, which means “big winged New Englander.”
  2. Humpback whales can grow up to 62 feet long and weigh 53 tons. That is more than the weight of 4 school buses, and longer than the Hollywood sign is tall.
  3. Humpbacks can be found in nearly every corner of the world’s oceans except polar regions. They migrate to warmer waters in the winter and cooler waters during the rest of the year.
  4. Though they are among the largest mammals in the world, humpbacks eat tiny prey. Their diet consists of plankton, krill and anchovies. To fill their stomachs, these whales eat up to 5,000 pounds of food a day. Think of how many anchovy pizzas that is!
  5. Diana and her cousins don’t have teeth. Instead, they have baleen plates that act as a strainer, letting the water out and keeping thousands of tiny plankton and fish in with one big gulp.
  6. Humpback whales sing some of the most complex songs of any species. The songs have specific patterns of sounds arranged in an order that can last as long as 30 minutes. As they sing, these whales can be heard from miles away under the ocean’s surface.
  7. They are also dancers that can launch their entire bodies out of the water. Humpbacks will also splash their tails and flippers on the surface.