When San Francisco photographer Elke Teichmann and her roommate were walking their dogs along the shoreline of Fort Funston last weekend, neither of them expected to stumble across the skeletal remnants of a massive sea creature. But, according to paleontology experts, that’s exactly what happened.
“My roommate and I were walking our dogs on the beach, observing all the driftwood that had washed up from the storm, when I saw something that caught my eye,” Teichmann told SFGATE in an email. “From my vantage point, it looked like some large white item peeking through all of the scattered branches.”
After approaching the object and taking a few photos, she thought it was maybe part of a whale vertebra — and after reviewing the images, Bay Area researchers confirmed she wasn’t too far off the mark.
“That’s a braincase of a modern gray whale, Eschrichtius robustus,” confirmed Robert Boessenecker, a research associate at UC Berkeley’s Museum of Paleontology. Their narrow, distinctive skulls make them easy to identify, and though these whales haven’t been around for very long, Boessenecker told SFGATE, they have a tumultuous history.