PEI

UBC to exhume blue whale from P.E.I. burial

A blue whale, buried in western P.E.I. in 1987, is set to become the centrepiece of a new biodiversity centre at the University of British Columbia.

A blue whale, buried in western P.E.I. in 1987, is set to become the centrepiece of a new biodiversity centre at the University of British Columbia.

An artist's conception of the display case for the blue whale skeleton. ((Beaty Museum))

The whale washed ashore near Tignish in 1987 and was buried in Nail Pond. It will be dug up this spring and shipped to Vancouver for display at the Beaty Biodiversity Museum. Andrew Trites of UBC's marine mammal unit was surprised to find how well preserved the whale was.

"In fact the entire blue whale is still there. It's still covered in skin and blubber after 20 years in the ground," Trites told CBC News Monday.

"This animal is so huge. It sort of defies the imagination to think how big a blue whale is. It's longer than two buses end to end; it's got a heart that was the size of a car, and arteries that a baby could crawl through."

The scientists had hoped to find the bones mostly stripped bare from their time in the ground, rather than an enormous mound of rotting skin and blubber, but were still thrilled by the discovery.

Some of the larger bones have already been recovered and are in storage at the Atlantic Veterinary College in Charlottetown. The work will continue in the spring with further help from AVC, exhuming the carcass and stripping the blubber from the bones.

The bones will be reassembled in Vancouver and put on display in a glass case outside the museum.

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