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Public invited to help rebuild a bottlenose whale

The “whale weekender” takes place on July 8 and 9 at The Grant Museum of Zoology

30 June, 2017 — By Tom Foot

Only the whale’s skull is currently on public display 

A WHALE dismantled into separate bones almost 70 years ago is to be rebuilt – with the help of Westminster Extra readers.

The Grant Museum of Zoology is inviting the public to help rebuild the mammal bone-by-bone during a historic “whale weekender” event on July 8 and 9.

The whale was more than eight metres long in life, and different parts of the skeleton have been stored in cupboards and cabinets across the museum and its storerooms. The skull is the only part currently on public display.

“The vast majority of most museums’ specimens are not on public display,” said museum manager Jack Ashby. “It will also allow us to work with the public to help protect this incredible specimen for the long term by cleaning 157 years’ worth of dust. It has such a brilliant history to it. But most of all, we want to know whether we have a complete skeleton. It’s so big that we’ve never been able to lay it all out before.”

The northern bottlenosed whale was caught by an expedition that set off across the Bristol Channel in pursuit of “two great fish”. The entire carcass was displayed in Weston Super Mare museum until being transferred to the Grant Museum in University Street, Fitzrovia, in 1948.

The northern bottlenose was hunted heavily by British seafarers during the 19th century and is one of the deepest diving mammals, eating up squid and other fish along the ocean floor. Unlike the elusive white whale featured in Herman Melville’s 1891 Moby Dick, northern bottlenose whales are known to be playful and curious towards boats, making them easy targets for hunters.

The public will help clean and put the Grant whale back together while children can work on an art installation that will sit next to the whale when it’s returned to former glory.

To book your spot at the free event visit www.ucl.ac.uk/culture/grant-museum-zoology


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