Vancouver: Blue Whale

A few days in, and I finally got in to UBC to visit... almost no-one, as everyone was away on holidays. It did however turn into one of the absolute highlights of the visit, which was the blue whale skeleton in the Biodiversity Museum next to the fisheries centre, that a colleague was kind enough to give a handful of us a private tour.

This thing is just massive (not surprisingly!), and it's really hard to capture in pictures, particularly because the room is similarly long and narrow.

The story of it is pretty interesting. It's "only" 25m long, and originally washed up on an island 20 years ago, assumed to have been hit and killed by a boat. I'm not sure of the complete timeline, but it has variously had a flipper chain-sawed off by its discoverer (which can clearly be seen in the skeleton!), been buried to aid decomposition, then been exhumed and studied before being transported to its current location. Much of the skeleton on display is not actually real, in part because bits are missing (see above flipper reference), and in part just because it is so massive. Take a look at the last picture!

Absolutely awe-inspiring.

Mark Hepburn 20 September 2010
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