During the years between 2000-2006, I practiced on the west coast of Vancouver Island, having my first chiropractic clinic in Ucluelet and later expanding to Tofino.
It was a beautiful place to live and continues to be magical. The raw natural elements tranquillized me as a young man and drew me to the coast and set up practice when I graduated from The University of Western States in 1999. Ucluelet and the beaches near Tofino are stunning even in the blowing wind and rain. I was lucky enough to surf with seals and even once with a porpoise at Florencia Bay. It was a perfect place to be a practitioner–surrounded by the power of nature. It was in 2006 when we made a tough decision to move. And during my early years of practice, a generous fisherman donated a set of whale vertebrae to me. He had picked them up (by accident) from the ocean floor at 505m while fishing for other fish, of course. The local fishermen knew of this area about 40 km off Tofino, where they would frequently find skeletal whale remains on the bottom of the ocean. They thought it was like an elephant graveyard but one for whales. The fishing was good in the area.
Blue whale and the section (scaled to a little girl) suspended in treatment room | location were found
Years later, and after moving to Nanaimo, there was finally an opportunity to string them up. But that wasn’t an easy task. And thank goodness I found Mike and Michi of Cetacea.ca. They were skilled at preparation and installation with these projects, having installed the blue whale spine at the Beaty Museum at UBC. I hired them to do the job. In honour of the whale, I wanted to do something special as an educational display and out of respect for the whale–our fellow mammal with whom we share this planet.
My mentors always engrained in me to respect all donors in the pursuit of higher education. In the anatomy lab at the University of Western States, we spent time thanking the donors. It is an absolute honour to learn from another human’s body. And I feel the same about these whale vertebrae…through a sense of responsibility to display them tastefully so we can all be inspired and maybe learn a few things in the process about the spine. Some of the unique features of the display include individual suspension of each vertebra to demonstrate what happens when vertebrae get too close to one another or go out of alignment. The display enables me to show how disc height loss affects movement. Uniquely, one vertebra has been sectioned to expose the cancellous bone and how unloading can enhance the delivery of nutrients to the disc. With this display, patients can get an excellent understanding, on a large scale, of what the goals of chiropractic treatment are.
The Nanaimo Daily News and Times Colonist did a nice write-up of the suspension, and I thank them for that.