Jim Short stands before a wood carving Friday, May 26, 2017, in his Coupeville shop. The carving will be part of a whale bell that is coming to the Coupeville Wharf. An unveiling celebration will take place at 3:30 p.m. Saturday, June 3. Photo by Ron Newberry/Whidbey News-Times

Coupeville will ring in the whales with new bell

The first ringing of the new Coupeville Whale Bell will take place Saturday at the Coupeville Wharf.

If you attend the afternoon ceremony, you might want to cover your ears.

“It’s loud,” Jim Short said. “It’s a really loud bell. Those who ring it are going to need ear plugs.”

Short, a Coupeville artist who specializes in wood turning, created a wood carving of an orca whale that will be mounted on top of the bell.

The carving, his first such work, was inspired by the whale wheel and other works by the late Roger Purdue.

The metal bell, only about a foot tall, was a gift from Matt Iverson’s family, which started the process of creating a whale bell for Coupeville.

“We shamelessly stole the idea Langley had,” joked Vickie Chambers, executive director of the Coupeville Historic Waterfront Association.

The bell prompted a call from Chambers to her friend, Short.

“I reached out to him and asked, ‘Where should I start?’” she said. “He took the bull by the horns and carved an incredible whale.”

The ceremony starts with a performance by the Shifty Sailors at 3:30 p.m., followed by an introduction by Chambers and speeches by Mayor Molly Hughes and Susan Berta, co-founder of the Orca Network.

The bell should start ringing by 4:15 p.m.

After that, the intent is to start ringing it whenever a whale is in view from the wharf, which happens at least a handful of times a year.

“Between Matt, the bell and Jim’s artistry we hooked up with a welder in Langley who mounted a sturdy frame,” Chambers said.

“All of these different pieces fell together. The Port of Coupeville has been a great partner. They allowed us to put the bell on the wharf.”

Chambers also thanked the Coupeville Chamber of Commerce for its support.

The timing coincides with Orca Awareness Month, which takes place in June. The awareness campaign focuses on awareness of the endangered Southern Resident orcas.

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