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Beluga Recognition Award

The Beluga Award, is presented each May by the Bedford Institute of Oceanography-Oceans Association A pewter sculpture of a beluga whale, mounted on a base of polished black granite, is presented to the winner as a symbol of the Award.



The Beluga Award recognizes employees who have exhibited unselfish dedication to community spirit at the Bedford Institute of Oceanography (BIO).The Award recognizes individuals in any professional or technical field, craft or skill who have made exceptional contributions to the success of BIO projects, initiatives or programs. These contributions should exemplify unselfish effort that encourages cooperation and fosters the team-work approach of BIO.All present and past employees who work or have worked at BIO in any field or specialization are eligible.  It is intended that this Award should recognize all professions including ship’s crew, administrative personnel, technicians and scientists.

History of the Beluga Recognition Award

In 1999 the idea of a Bedford Institute of Oceanography recognition award was first conceived to pay tribute to those who had contributed their talents and work to making BIO a successful and well recognized oceanographic institute. At the BIO Oceans Alumni Annual General Meeting in May 2000 this concept was presented to the membership for approval of the draft criteria for selection of any person who had worked or was still working at BIO. The membership approved the general concept, with the executive given the responsibility to select an appropriate symbol to be presented to a person chosen to receive the award.

During the summer and fall of 2000 work began to choose a symbol of the awards. Initial thoughts were that the symbol should have a well-recognized association with oceanography. It was also desirable that this symbol be as " Canadian" as possible. Dr. Paul Brodie was asked to develop ideas for a model of a marine fish or animal that would serve this purpose. He readily selected the beluga whale as an ideal marine mammal that could be used. It was hoped that the symbol could be made as a work of art that would be proudly displayed in the home of any award winner. Paul made a model of a beluga whale that was about 11 inches (28 cm) long. This model was formed in clay and baked. Paul, who is an expert on the beluga (his PhD was based on this animal), formed the whale so that its head was turned slightly, a feature that represents a unique ability of this species of cetacean.

The next step was to find a material and technique for fabricating the beluga that could be used for presentation. A molding and casting technique was most desirable in order to preserve the details of Paul's model. Several fabrication companies were contacted to see if they could construct a mold. Only one firm was willing to attempt a mold and cast of such a large item: Amos Pewter of Mahone Bay, Nova Scotia. They had never attempted such a large item in all of their casting experience. Part of the problem was to make a large mold of silicon-rubber and then to get molten pewter to flow uniformly into all extremities of the mold. The second problem would be to have the metal cool in the mold at uniform rates so that no changes in crystal sizes would form. After several attempts they were successful in producing a prototype and a production item that weighed about 6 lbs (2.7 kg). The final step in the whale fabrication was to achieve a satin polish finish on the pewter.

There were additional difficulties in finding a suitable stand on which to mount the pewter beluga whale. Again several companies were consulted for ideas and materials. It was desirable, if possible, to mount the beluga in such a way that it could be picked up from the support stand and examined in all aspects. The final choice was a black granite base that complemented the metallic luster of the pewter. An acrylic support raised the whale above the granite base. The weight of the pewter whale on the acrylic support would provide sufficient stability to the entire piece. The base and support are fabricated by Atlantex Creative Works, East Chezzetcook, Nova Scotia.

Last Modified: 2023-07-26