Location: Royal Ontario Museum, Toronto, ON and Memorial University, St. John’s Newfoundland
News Links: Eight dump trucks of manure needed
In spring 2014, we were contracted by the Royal Ontario Museum (ROM) and Memorial University to collect two blue whales skeletons from the shores of Trout River and Rocky Harbour, Newfoundland. The endangered whales had died and washed ashore after becoming trapped in sea ice. Although detrimental to the conservation of the Western Atlantic population, samples of the whales’ tissue and collection of their skeletons provides an important opportunity to gain knowledge on a species not well known to scientists.
We sent out a crew to join researchers from the ROM and volunteers to help remove the flesh from the bones of the whale carcasses - a process known as flensing. Although a messy (and smelly) job, the bones were eventually recovered and transported back to our headquarters. The bones have since been placed in shipping containers and covered in cow manure to break down the remaining flesh and to prepare for exhibit. ROM researchers are also preserving the 180 kg heart of the blue whale for scientific study and museum display.
The blue whale skeleton mounts will eventually go on exhibit at the ROM and Memorial University.