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Massive Fin Whale Sculpture 'Pheena' Returns To Berkeley Home

BERKELEY (CBS SF) -- A giant fiberglass fin whale sculpture made her way back to her home in the Berkeley hills on Tuesday.

"Pheena" is the 50-foot-long fiberglass whale sculpture at Berkeley's Lawrence Hall of Science that kids -- and kids at heart -- have been climbing on for the last 40 years.

But all that love had taken a toll on Pheena. So Lawrence Hall officials enlisted Bay Marine Boatworks in Richmond to give the whale a little makeover.

"We like to say science learning starts before you even enter the building, and Pheena is a huge part of that," said Lawrence Hall of Science marketing specialist Adam Frost.

The staff at Bay Marine repaired cracks and reinforced her steel structure. But the workers also did research on fin whales to give Pheena a more realistic paint job using a durable gel coat finish.

"I was thinking, That sounds like a lot of fun. Something different…really!" said Bay Marine Boatworks Project Manager Rann Phibbs. "We felt we could make it better than it was, and we all took that as a challenge"

So, with that challenge met, on Tuesday, Pheena began her migration home to Berkeley. Not by air, like when she was originally installed, but by flatbed truck.

Once at the Hall, she got a slow-motion ride on a giant custom skateboard, fitting through the gates with a few inches to spare.

She was then finally returned to her traditional spot on the front plaza. Pheena did become airborne for a moment -- sort of -- as a forklift gently lifted the 3,000-pound sculpture into place.

That's when the forklift driver saw his chance and became the first person to climb on "Pheena 2.0."

"I've been coming here with this whale my entire life, since I was 3 or 4 years old, and always climbing on it," said Ron West with the Lawrence Hall of Science Exhibits Department.

Just like the next generation of young visitors who will begin learning before they even enter the building.

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