April 29, 2010

World's largest blue whale skeleton at UBC's Beaty Biodiversity Museum

Two decades after a 25 metre-long blue whale beached off the Atlantic Ocean near the town of Tignish, it will finally move into its new home, near the Pacific Ocean, at UBC's Beaty Biodiversity Museum. The whale skeleton will be the largest skeleton in the world to be suspended without external support.

Its journey to BC began in May 2008 when a team of marine biologists exhumed the skeleton with the financial support of the Canadian Museum of Nature (CMN) and the Government of PEI. It then made its way across Canada to Victoria to be cleaned before Michael DeRoos, skeleton articulator, will re-assemble the bones on campus.

The blue whale is now a valuable teaching tool in educating the public on the interconnectedness of all living forms on earth, which happens to be the central theme of the museum and the Biodiversity Research Centre, a research network of more than 50 internationally renowned scientists from multiple departments at UBC.

"Visitors will be amazed by the blue whale's size," says Wayne Maddison, museum director and a professor of botany and zoology. "More importantly, the whale will help us tell the story of biodiversity to the public - how the earth's species are interconnected ecologically and genetically."

The UBC blue whale skeleton is one of only six such exhibits in North America - the only other Canadian exhibit is also being unveiled at the CMN in Ottawa this summer.