Featured Image Credit: Oregon State Parks
By Kira Krall
A team at Oregon State University is thinking big for their 2019 educational exhibit debut. The skeleton of a blue whale that washed up on an Oregon beach in 2015 is slated to be the star of the show. However, the skeleton still had a whole lot of whale attached. After a 30-person volunteer team removed 58 tons of flesh, they put nature’s best recyclers to work by sinking the bones in nearby Yaquina Bay. Crabs and other bottom-feeding scavengers were quick to pick free meals off of the 78-foot carcass, and only the head needs significant tissue removed by humans.
Whale expert and Marine Mammal Institute director Bruce Mate is eager to pull the bones out of the water and begin preserving the skeleton so it can be articulated and displayed. According to Mate, 10% of the oil found in a whale’s body is contained within the bones. This oil will cause the skeleton to become rancid if left untreated, a definite no-no when it comes to attracting visitors to the new exhibit.
While volunteer and student hours have contributed greatly to the project, there’s still another $125,000 to be raised if the whale skeleton is destined for the spotlight. The chemicals that extract oil from the bones are costly to produce and dispose of. The team would also need specially sized troughs to submerge the bones. The team hopes to raise that money in time to retrieve and treat the skeleton for its 2019 debut.
The Blue Whale Articulation Project is seeking to display the first documented blue whale on Oregon beaches in over a century. Read more from our source here.