Out of the Depths: The Blue Whale Story

Out of the Depths: The Blue Whale Story
  • Closed
March 11, 2017 to September 4, 2017
  • Level B2, Garfield Weston Exhibition Hall
Discover a story bigger than all of us.


Share in the journey of the ROM scientists, who worked with the local communities of Trout River and Rocky Harbour Newfoundland, to recover two rare blue whales. Dive deep into the story and explore the world’s largest and one of the most mysterious animals. 

Out of the Depths: The Blue Whale Story retells the story of nine blue whales that died tragically in the Gulf of St. Lawrence in 2014, and the unprecedented opportunity for research and conservation that has resulted. In this amazing ROM original exhibition, see the enormous skeleton of one of the recovered blue whales and discover how they evolved, the size of their heart, how they communicate, and more of the mind-blowing biology of Earth’s largest animal…ever. Gain insight into the decline of blue whales, what's being done to protect them, and how the ROM is using DNA to unlock some of the secrets of these elusive creatures.


"This was an opportunity for us, born of tragedy, to make something more of her life" – Mark Engstrom, deputy director of collections and research


In 2014 a tragic event occurred off the coast of Newfoundland when nine rare blue whales became trapped in ice and died. Their loss represents about three percent of the Northwest Atlantic’s blue whale population; in Canada that’s almost equivalent to the human population of Saskatchewan. Blue whales usually sink when they die, but in an unusual occurrence two of the blue whales washed ashore in Trout River and Rocky Harbour, Newfoundland and Labrador, offering an unprecedented opportunity for research.

Researcher working onsite recovering the Blue Whale in Newfoundland
“Salvaging the blue whale in Newfoundland was a once in a lifetime experience.” – Burton Lim, Assistant Curator of Mammalogy


Working with the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, Research Casting International and the local communities, ROM scientists de-fleshed and recovered the bones of this endangered species, transporting them to Ontario. After a two-year process where the bones were buried in manure, and de-greased, one of these awe-inspiring animals is ready to be displayed at the ROM.

Team standing with the Blue Whale
“How exactly do you take apart a 150-tonne whale?" – CBC, May 9, 2014

Supporting Sponsor
Newfoundland Labrador

Exhibit Patron
The Dorthy Strelsin Foundation

Media Partner
Toronto Star

Government Partner
Ontario 150

Authored by: Cheryl Fraser