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Images: In Forgotten Whalebones, the Past is Remembered and Recorded

Scientists surveyed 16th-century Basque whaling sites in eastern Canada (determined from archives of the fishery in Spain), as well as additional bays and harbors along the Quebec north shore whose characteristics matched those of known sites. The sites ranged from Middle Bay, Quebec, west to Chaffaud au Basques. (Brenna McLeod, Trent University)

A fanciful rendering of a 16th-century Basque whaling scene. (Des Monstres et Prediges 1573 Ambrose Pare)

An expedition to search for ancient whale bones in eastern Canada aboard the sailboat Rosita included (left to right) Davis Sanford, an engineering student from Dalhousie University, Halifax, Nova Scotia; Moira Brown, a scientist at the New England Aquarium (NEAq); Brenna McLeod, a graduate student at Trent University in Peterborough, Ontario; Yan Guilbault, a researcher at NEAq; and Michael Moore, a biologist at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. (Photo courtesy of Michael Moore, WHOI)

Rosita is docked at the wharf on Stage Island in eastern Canada, with Heneley Island in the background. (Photo by Michael Moore, WHOI)

Members of the expedition search the shorelines for bone pieces in Little Mecatina, Quebec. (Photo by Michael Moore, WHOI)

Donning clothing to protect themselves on shorelines infested with mosquitoes and black flies, Yan Guilbault of NEAq (left) and Brenna McLeod of Trent University collect GPS positions and other information from a site where they found old whale bones. (Photo by Moira Brown, NEAq)

Brenna McLeod displays the fused neck bones of a long-dead whale, which were found by the expedition. (Photo by Michael Moore, WHOI)

The ancient whale bones are first cleaned and scrubbed thoroughly before they are sampled. (Photo by Moira Brown, NEAq)

Moira Brown of NEAq (left) and Brenna McLeod of Trent University use a portable drill to sample a 500-year-old whale bone on Castle Island, Labrador. (Photo by Michael Moore, WHOI)

Shallow pilot holes are drilled to reveal the clean, well preserved bone.

Holes drilled into these fused neck bones of a whale yielded bone dust from which DNA was extracted to determine the species of the whale and other genetic information. (Photo by Moira Brown, NEAq)

A field of wild iris on the beach in Middle Bay, Quebec, at a 16th-century Basque whaling site. (Photo by Michael Moore, WHOI)