Blue whale skeleton comes to Ottawa

The Canadian Museum of Nature has unveiled the star attraction of its new Water Gallery – a massive blue whale skeleton.
An employee at the Canadian Nature Museum in Ottawa moves part of the blue whale skeleton. ((CBC))
The Canadian Museum of Nature has unveiled the star attraction of its new Water Gallery — a blue whale skeleton that is 20 metres long.

The museum acquired the remains of the massive female whale in 1975 after it beached itself in Newfoundland.

The flesh was stripped off the carcass and the bones were shipped to Ottawa, where they were buried on National Capital Commission property for eight years to help strip the bones.

Museum staff have nicknamed the skeleton Tallulah and they're hoping she will draw crowds to the museum's new Water Gallery, scheduled to open on May 22.

Blue whales are the largest animals on earth and are found in every ocean. The display in Ottawa will be the first of its kind in Canada.

Jonathan Ferrabee, a senior exhibition designer with the museum, said he thinks people will be excited to see the rare display.

"It’s what I call the wedding cake in this particular exhibition. It is very central, it will fill up a whole huge room," Ferrabee said.

"To see something this large, to see an animal up close in this way is really a new experience for me and a new experience, I think, for anyone who is going to come in and have a look."

Thursday’s mounting of the whale skeleton is one of the final stages of a renovation project the museum started in 2004. The project included building upgrades and the addition of new galleries and exhibition spaces.

A second blue whale exhibit is planned for the Beaty Biodiversity Museum in Vancouver, using the skeleton of a whale that washed up on a P.E.I. beach in 1987.