Rare beached whale found in Taiwan to be preserved as museum exhibit

08/23/2022 09:49 PM
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Photo courtesy of the Ocean Conservation Administration
Photo courtesy of the Ocean Conservation Administration

Taipei, Aug. 23 (CNA) The bones of a dead blue whale found beached in Taiwan in 2020 will be displayed at National Museum of Marine Biology & Aquarium next year in Pingtung County, according to a press release from the Ocean Conservation Administration (OCA) on Tuesday.

The body of the blue whale was spotted in January 2020 on a beach in Changbin, Taitung County, the first ever case recorded in the country, according to the OCA. Considering how rare it is to get a blue whale carcass -- not only in Taiwan but around the globe -- the OCA invited experts to study the whale.

Based on a memorandum signed last November, the OCA said it will work on preserving and restoring the whale's bones and exhibit them in public to promote public awareness of conservation, with National Chen Kung University's (NCKU) Marine Biology and Cetacean Research Center and the National Museum of Marine Biology & Aquarium also signing the document.

Even though the blue whale was relatively young and only 20 meters in length, the preservation work has been extremely difficult, the OCA said Tuesday, attributing the challenges to the cartilaginous tissue involved and the severely fractured skull of the whale.

After steaming -- a process used to remove the tissue from the bones -- the bones then have to be degreased, dried and discolored several times, before they can be stored and used for more intricate tasks, including positioning, coloring and assembling, the OCA explained.

To ensure the collected bones are comprehensively stored and correctly assembled, the OCA has built a model through three dimensional scanning.

Also simulated is the restoration of the missing head bones, which will provide the team with a crucial reference in rebuilding the head, the OCA added.

Currently, NCKU has finished processing 156 of the blue whale bones, which have been handed over to the museum for further restoration. The full whale is expected to go on display next summer.

(By Tsai Meng-yu and Chao Yen-hsiang)

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