Blue Whale Tale
March 8, 2017 5:45 PM   Subscribe

"In May 2014, a small ROM [Royal Ontario Museum] team travelled to Newfoundland to salvage a Blue Whale that had washed ashore. This unfortunate event presents an unprecedented opportunity to study one of the more endangered species of marine mammals -- blue whales are listed as endangered under Schedule 1 of the federal Species at Risk Act." Here’s how the ROM turned the tragedy of a blue whale death into one massive teachable moment.

Three dead blue whales washed onto the western coast of Newfoundland that spring. The Internet-famous whale came to shore in Trout River. The ROM towed it to Woody Point, where it would be easier to work on. A second in Rocky Harbour was later collected by the ROM too. A third washed up near Bakers Brook.

A month earlier, DFO research scientist Jack Lawson, flying in a helicopter 60 kilometres off Cape Anguille in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, spotted nine dead blue whales stranded in ice. They were likely trapped and killed by fast-moving sea ice.

The death of nine animals is a staggering loss for the blue whales of the region. “This stranding event represented the removal of perhaps 4 per cent of mature individuals from this endangered population,” Lawson explains. After being decimated by commercial whaling, the species is listed as endangered globally. But while blue whales can be found in all oceans but the Arctic, smaller populations cluster together in different parts of the sea, even communicating with a distinctive vocabulary of acoustic calls.

The population that frequents the Canadian waters of the western North Atlantic appears to be distressed.

From Canada's Department of Fisheries and Oceans:

Blue Whale (Atlantic population)

DFO Research Scientist, Dr. Hilary Moors-Murphy, studies and monitors whales in Eastern Canada. She uses rare video footage and photos to show you how to identify Blue Whales on the water and report your sighting.

Dr. Hilary Moors-Murphy: Reporting Blue Whales

The death of 9 blue whales prompted the ROM to preserve 2 skeletons — and give them a 2nd life

Avoiding heartbreak: Sending a blue whale's heart across the Atlantic
posted by mandolin conspiracy (3 comments total) 14 users marked this as a favorite
I'm going to try to go in the next week or so to see the exhibit, but now that I know the heart and original head won't be there until the summer I'll have to visit twice!
posted by thecjm at 7:28 PM on March 8, 2017

This is beautiful. Thank you.
posted by andromache at 5:11 AM on March 9, 2017

The kid and my wife saw it yesterday. Worth the drive and the Crowd!
posted by Ashwagandha at 8:41 PM on March 14, 2017

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