Canada's biggest blue whale skeleton unveiled in B.C.
Published Saturday, May 22, 2010 6:39PM PDT
A massive skeleton the length of two city busses was put on display for the first time on Saturday at a new museum at the University of British Columbia.
The skeleton, dubbed Miss Big Blue, is a part of the Beaty Biodiversity Museum's blue whale exhibit which opens this fall.
Miss Big Blue is the largest specimen of its kind in Canada and, according to researchers, the most accurately assembled blue whale skeleton in the world.
She was found off the coast of Prince Edward Island, where researchers believe she died after being struck in the head by a freighter.
The skeleton, which consists of more than 1,000 bones, was extracted two years ago. It measures 24-metres in length, and once held a heart the size of a car.
Marine mammal researcher Andrew Trites says there are fewer than 7,000 blue whales remaining on Earth due to excessive hunting in the past.
"We're just fortunate that there were a few left that were missed by whalers," he said, adding that the species is still "not out of the woods, by any means."
The same goes for grey whales, which have been turning up in unexpected places such as Vancouver's False Creek, or off the coast of Israel – where they had never been seen before.
The cause of the unexpected appearances in unknown, but that's one discussion the Beaty Museum hopes to encourage.
"We are hoping this will be a centre of dialogue for marine conservation, for bio-diversity," Trites said. "A way for us to solve some of these issues that are coming down the road at us."
With a report from CTV British Columbia's Peter Grainger