Search This Blog

Friday, August 19, 2016

whale skeleton on display again

From stuff.co.nz

  
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 Blue Whale was 26.5 metres long when it washed ashore in 1908.
CANTERBURY MUSEUM/SUPPLIED

The Blue Whale was 26.5 metres long when it washed ashore in 1908.
Almost 200 bones have been in storage since the Garden Court – where they were displayed from 1976 – was covered over when the museum expanded in 1994. The bones were carefully restored over four or five years from 2003.
 
The whale bones arrive at the Canterbury Museum on a horse and cart in 1908.
CANTERBURY MUSEUM/SUPPLIED
The whale bones arrive at the Canterbury Museum on a horse and cart in 1908.

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."

2 comments:

M. C. Muir said...

Great post, Joan and amazing about the smell and oil.

Joan Druett said...

I think they had stronger stomachs, back in the day!