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"Happiness always looks small when you hold it in your hands, but let it go, and at once you learn how big and precious it is."
Maxim Gorky

Monday, January 11, 2010

The BIG lovely bones...



Yesterday, I took the nieces and nephews on a natural history excursion...to them it was just another fun trip into the city. We went to have a look at the progress of the reconstruction of a Blue whale skeleton. 20 years ago a female whale washed up dead on the coast of Prince Edward Island. She was buried with lime but didn't quite rot down the way people had hoped since she was buried below the high tide line and stayed nice and moist. After much stink and removal of most of the flesh, she was put into a transport truck and brought across the country to Victoria (I wouldn't want to have been stuck behind that one in a traffic jam!). One of the local shipyards donated their space and power washing equipment to finish off the final cleaning of the bones.

The staff involved in this process were extremely helpful and knowlegable and offered up all kinds of interesting facts for the kids...such as...did you know that a Blue whales heart is the size of a VW Beetle? Or that its tongue is as big as an elephant? How about the sheer length which can be as long as 3 city buses?

I don't know if Julianna was enjoying the smell much!



We figured that you could drive a Smartcar through the rib cage...the ribs are being cast in plaster from models of the original ones since the weight would be too much to hang...it will then be painted to match the rest of the skeleton...

They got a good close up look of baleen and how the whale uses this to filter the 6 tons of krill it eats everyday...




An interesting interior of whale bone...

This is how she will be housed when she reaches her final home at UBC. It will be great to be able to see it from the outside...you can sit and have lunch with the big beautiful beast.