Event: The Beaty Biodiversity Museum’s large blue whale skeleton will be undergoing its first cleaning and maintenance since being put on display five years ago.
Date/Time: Tuesday, Nov. 10 from 10 a.m. – 12 p.m.
Location: Beaty Biodiversity Museum, 2212 Main Mall
Parking: Parking available in the Health Sciences Parkade: http://www.maps.ubc.ca/?467
Please note that Main Mall and parts of East Mall and University Boulevard are closed to vehicular traffic.
Experts will be getting up close and personal with the 25-metre suspended blue whale skeleton that greets visitors at UBC’s Beaty Biodiversity Museum Nov. 10, when it undergoes its first cleaning and close inspection since it was installed in 2010.
Curatorial assistant of mammals, reptiles, and amphibians Chris Stinson, along with master skeleton articulators Mike deRoos and Michi Main will use a scissor lift and vacuum to clear off dust and spider webs that have accumulated over the past five years. They will also inspect the bones for cracks, make repairs, and touch up paint on the few replica bones that are part of the full skeleton. After assessing the skeleton, they will decide how often to schedule maintenance in the future. Stinson, deRoos and Main will be available for interviews on Tuesday morning.
The largest suspended and internally supported skeleton in the world, UBC’s blue whale underwent a unique process when it was prepared for display. DeRoos and Main drilled and cut holes into the bones to insert metal armature, and then used cables for its suspension—each one rated to support the entire weight of the skeleton.
The blue whale skeleton belongs to a female specimen that washed up on the northwest coast of Prince Edward Island in 1987. Twenty years later, UBC acquired the rights to recover the skeleton. Despite having been buried for two decades, the 150-tonne carcass had hardly decayed and had sustained significant skeletal damage. Countless hours were spent over two and a half years cleaning and repairing the bones, preparing them for the suspension, and creating replicas of those that were damaged or missing. These efforts were recorded in the 2011 Discovery Channel documentary, Raising Big Blue.