Problems slow efforts to display P.E.I. blue whale skeleton at B.C. museum

The Canadian Press ~ The News
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SUMMERSIDE, P.E.I. - A blue whale that met its end on the shores of Prince Edward Island decades ago has yet to reach its final resting place on the other side of the country.
The whale's 26-metre skeleton was removed from a shallow grave one year ago in Norway, P.E.I.
Since then, it's become a massive challenge for the University of British Columbia's new Beaty Biodiversity Centre, where it is to become an atrium showpiece.
"The bones still smell quite badly," acknowledged Andrew Trites, team leader for the recovery operation.
After the skeleton pieces were trucked to the West Coast, the larger bones were immersed in two specially constructed tubs filled with warm water and bacteria.
Trites, director of the university's marine mammal research unit, hoped the process would extract oil from the bones.
"That worked reasonably well, but there still is a lot of oil in the bones," he said.
"It's taking longer than we had hoped or expected."
In the meantime, the glass atrium in which the skeleton will be housed has just about been completed.
"I'm reminded every day of the need to finish the whale project," Trites said.
Observation of the skull led team members to speculate the whale's death had been caused by a collision with a ship. Only after the skull was examined in British Columbia did the extent of the damage become apparent. The interior, Trites said, has the consistency of oatmeal and that might be due to deterioration.
The skull is so badly damaged, it would be unsafe to have it suspended as part of the blue whale display.
"That was a real downer, that day," Trites said of the realization the whale's largest features are unusable.
A replicated skull will be used instead.

Organizations: B.C. museum, University of British Columbia

Geographic location: Prince Edward Island, SUMMERSIDE, Norway West Coast British Columbia

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