Canterbury Museum's blue whale on display again
It's been in hiding for 22 years, but the longest blue whale skeleton in any collection in the world is ready for its big moment.
The 26.5 metre long blue whale skeleton has been in the Canterbury Museum collection since it arrived in Christchurch on a horse and cart in 1908, but the bones slipped from public view in 1994.
There is no space in the museum large enough to display the bones, but they will be the star of a planned future upgrade for the complex of historic buildings.
The whale has been dead for more than a hundred years and was born two hundred years ago, but the bones still exude oil and retain a distinctive smell. The whale's lower mandible bone is the largest single natural history object in the world, weighing 418 kilograms.
This is not the only whale skeleton the museum owns. Back in the day, on 25 May 1874, the American whaleship Eliza Adams killed a humpback whale just outside of Akaroa Harbour. Wrote the third mate, Abram Briggs:
"[took it] with our boats & the volunteered assistence of the Steamer that came down to see the whale we towed him to the Ship at 3 PM quite a number of visitors come on board to see the whale, next day took the whale on the beach at high water & at low water went & took the blubber off of him & gave the carcass to parties on shore for the Christchurch museum."