BREAKING: Royal Ontario Museum to recover two rare Northwest Atlantic blue whales

Posted: May 1, 2014 - 16:36 , by Burton Lim
Categories: 
What's New, Mammalogy, Marine Life, Research | Comments (4) | Comment
The blue whale skeleton hangs in the atrium at the Beaty Museum.

ROM Biodiversity will send a crew to salvage two blue whales that washed ashore on the coast of Newfoundland last week. These unfortunate deaths due to unusual ice formations in the ocean are an unprecedented opportunity to study one of the more endangered species of marine mammals. We have only one rib of a blue whale in our collection and there are few complete skeletons in museums throughout the world.

At approximately 30 metres in length and 180 tons in weight, the blue whale is the largest species to ever live on Earth. So they are about the same length as Gordo the Barosaurus in the ROM dinosaur gallery, but almost 10 times as heavy.

Retrieving two blue whales will be easier said than done. Stay tuned to @ROMBiodiversity...

Quick Facts

  • In April 2014, at least nine blue whales were caught in the ice off the southwest coast of Newfoundland and were killed. The remains of two whales washed ashore in the coastal communities of Rocky Harbour and Trout River, Newfoundland and Labrador.
  • Blue whales are listed as endangered under Schedule 1 of the federal Species at Risk Act. They are regularly seen along the southwest corner of Newfoundland in the spring where they feed along the ice edge, and have been killed by ice movement in this area previously.
  • It is unprecedented to have this number of this endangered species perish at once in a single area. The deaths are likely as a result of the record-breaking severe ice conditions this winter in the North Atlantic, combined with the unique topography of the Newfoundland southwest coast.
     

Read more: "Solution in the works to deal with whale carcasses on Newfoundland shore" Globe and Mail, May 1, 2014

Comments

Comment by Heather Vivien ...

I guess I have to congratulate you on this sad acquisition but the whole story is just heartbreaking. I would be happy to hear some of your experts giving Canadians some suggestions on what we can do to prevent this terrible loss from happening again. We all know Global Warming is having catastrophic effects on the planet. What can we do about another disastrous ice formation and the consequent loss of marine species? What about ice breakers? Can we pressure our government into sending out some ships to clear the ice and a path out to sea for these hapless creatures?

Comment by Lead Concierge

Thanks for your interest in the Blue Whale recovery project.  The cause of death of the nine Blue whales, albeit extremely rare and likely due to strange ice formations, does remain a mystery.  Generally, if people want to help mitigate climate change they should reduce their consumpiton of fossil fuels, and advocate for policy that would see a reduction in the use of fossil fuels and the preservation of our natural heritage and forests.

Comment by Lead Concierge

Thanks for your interest in the Blue Whale recovery project.  The cause of death of the nine Blue whales, albeit extremely rare and likely due to strange ice formations, does remain a mystery.  Generally, if people want to help mitigate climate change they should reduce their consumpiton of fossil fuels, and advocate for policy that would see a reduction in the use of fossil fuels and the preservation of our natural heritage and forests.

Comment by Boro

It is good to see that the ROM is taking the initiative to create something positive out of a very unfortunate incident. I know that my kids will appreciate and learn from your efforts when we visit the ROM in the future. Thanks!