Memorial University Opens New Blue Whale Interpretive Exhibit

By Memorial University – St. John’s Campus Modified on January 01, 2024
Tags : Academics | Campus Life | News

Now is a great time to immerse yourself in the epic story of Memorial’s blue whale.

 Memorial University Opens New Blue Whale Interpretive Exhibit

Memorial University’s new interpretive exhibit, titled A Blue Whale’s Tale, honours both the power and fragility of the natural world.

The whale, which was recovered from the west coast of Newfoundland in 2014 after washing ashore in Bonne Bay, N.L., is posed as if it’s swimming — a nod to Memorial’s motto Provehito in Altum, which means “launch forth into the deep,” and symbolizes the spirit of discovery that is central to the university.

The 23-metre-long blue whale skeleton suspended in the Core Science Facility atrium is now accompanied by historical, environmental, and scientific material meant to inform and inspire visitors. The exhibit is open to anyone who wants to learn more about this majestic creature.

Facts about the blue whale

Here’s some fun facts that you may not have known about the blue whale:

  • The Royal Ontario Museum (ROM) cleaned the skeleton and prepared it for display. This involved removing the skin, blubber, internal organs, and muscles, taking it apart bone-by-bone, and placing the skeleton in containers filled with soil and compost. The compost helps remove remaining flesh from the bones. Then the skeleton was degreased, which can take two to three years.
  • At 5.5 m (18’) long, the whale skull was so large it had to be brought into the Core Science Facility during construction to fit.
  • There are 356 bones in a blue whale skeleton.
  • There are very few whole blue whales available for study. Memorial worked with ROM to obtain as much information as possible from the whale, including genetic samples to reconstruct their entire genome. Another project sought to analyze the ear wax to learn more about the chemistry of the marine environment.
  • Blue whales are the largest animals that have ever lived — even bigger than the largest known dinosaur
  • The average tongue on a blue whale weighs as much as an entire elephant.
  • The heart weighs as much as a small car.
  • Females are larger than males.
  • Their diet consists mainly of krill and they can consume as much as four tonnes a day.

Installing the blue whale

The installation in the Core Science Facility took approximately two weeks of careful and precise work by Research Casting Inc. The time-lapse video below shows the installation process.

Learn more Memorial’s exhibit, “A Blue Whale’s Tale”

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