British Columbia·Photos

Grey whale that washed ashore 5 years ago on display on Vancouver Island

The bones of a 10-metre grey whale that was found on a beach on Vancouver Island five years ago is now on display for the public.

Whale's body was exhumed from secluded burial site for display at Deep Bay Marine Field Station

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      The bones of a 10-metre grey whale that was found on a beach on Vancouver Island five years ago is now on display for the public.

      The journey began back in April 2010 when the whale washed ashore at East Sooke Park, just outside of Victoria.

      Hundreds of people flocked to the area and after several days there were complaints some people were climbing on the body and cutting off parts of the whale with knives.

      Members of the Beecher Bay First Nation organized a towboat to remove the whale from the beach and buried it in a secluded location on their territory.

      Then, about 18 months ago, in conjunction with Vancouver Island University, the skeleton was exhumed.

      "There was a huge amount of soft tissue decomposition so there was very little muck and smell," said Ken Magnus, a retired radiologist who volunteered on the project.

      "The only unfortunate thing is that a lot of the bones were broken but those have been repaired."

      Giant of the ocean

      "Each bone as it was removed from the dig site was labelled...photographs were taken, measurements were made that gave us the foundation for articulation when we had processed the bones and started to put them together again."

      The bones were transported to Deep Bay Marine Field Station, located just north of Qualicum Bay, where they were rewashed, reprocessed, degreased, bleached with hydrogen peroxide and then coated with a transparent hypoxi resin.

      Magnus says the most difficult aspect of the project was the amount of labour needed.

      "It took hours and hours and you had to have various people with various skills. We've had sculptors, painting artists, welders, metal workers. You name it they had to play a role."

      The exhibit at the Deep Bay Marine Field Station is now open to the public and Magnus hopes it will be enjoyed by future generations.

      "It's a great, great education tool — when they have the kids passing through the Deep Bay Station on a weekly basis they'll be able to see one of the giants of our ocean."

      To hear the full interview, listen to the audio labelled 10-metre grey whale on display on Vancouver Island.


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