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DISPLAYING POSTS TAGGED: mammalogy (2)

Fin win was no whale fail

Author
by Colin
Publish date
3 October 2014
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You may call me crazy for putting my hand up again for the chance to end up knee-deep in a decomposing whale. This time, the whale that washed up on Levy’s Beach near Warrnambool in Western Victoria was a Fin Whale (Balaenoptera physalus). Fin Whales are the second largest species of whale and can reach up to about 25m long and weigh more than 50 tons! They feed mostly on krill and can consume between one and two tonnes per day during the summer months when ocean productivity is high.

Fin Whale washed up a beach The Fin Whale washed up on the beach.
Image: Colin Silvey
Source: Museum Victoria

Upon hearing of the news of the wash up, Museum Victoria put together a team to retrieve it, along with the Australian Marine Mammal Conservation Foundation (AMMCF) and Melbourne Zoo. The Department of Environment and Primary Industries (DEPI), Parks Victoria and the Cultural Heritage Officer were of great assistance in organising planning, logistics, contractors, public engagement and working near the significant cultural heritage sites in the area.

Bentley Bird on the beach MV's Assistant Vertebrate Collections Manager Bentley Bird ‘gloves up’ ready for tissue sampling.
Image: Colin Silvey
Source: Museum Victoria

Kate Charlton-Robb with the Fin Whale Australian Marine Mammal Conservation Foundation’s founding director Kate Charlton-Robb collects a tissue sample for future research.
Image: Colin Silvey
Source: Museum Victoria

Whale on beach A wave crashes over the whale’s starboard side. Strong wave action like this posed a significant risk and required the delicate skills of two excavators to move it higher up the beach.
Image: Colin Silvey
Source: Museum Victoria

Measuring a whale We took morphometric measurements prior to dissection which will add to what we currently know about the biology of the species.
Image: Colin Silvey
Source: Museum Victoria

Sarah Frith with dead whale Melbourne Zoo veterinarian Sarah Frith takes a stab at removing the eye.
Image: Colin Silvey
Source: Museum Victoria
 

Excavator working with whale on beach Tools of the trade: The excavator was invaluable when it came to removing the blubber layer and heavy lifting
Image: Colin Silvey
Source: Museum Victoria

Tools used to dissect whale More tools of the trade: hooks, knives and flensing tools are essential for the removal of blubber (flensing) and flesh from the skeleton.
Image: Colin Silvey
Source: Museum Victoria
 

Brendan Taylor working on the whale Preparator Brendan Taylor gets to work removing flesh and blubber.
Image: Rob Zugaro
Source: Museum Victoria
 

Burying whale bones By day two the carcass no longer resembled a whale. The bones were taken to a private location and buried to allow for bacteria and other flesh eating organisms to clean the skeleton. The cleaned bones will be retrieved in 12-18 months and added to the museum’s collection.
Image: Rob Zugaro
Source: Museum Victoria
 

The support provided by the Department of Environment and Primary Industries (DEPI), Parks Victoria, the local Indigenous representatives and the enthusiastic farmer who allowed for the storage of bones on his property, was second to none. Without their resources and assistance, the recovery could have not taken place.

Links:

Australian Marine Mammal Conservation Foundation

Isaac the African Lion

Author
by Kate C
Publish date
24 August 2012
Comments
Comments (3)

Lion head Isaac the African Lion.
Source: Museum Victoria
 

We've just acquired a magnificent male African Lion specimen thanks to the generosity of his former owners, an international museum network and a rapid response by our curator of mammals. Jeff Bradley, Mammalogy Collection Manager at the Burke Museum in Seattle, Washington, was at Melbourne Museum today to tell the story of Isaac the lion.

"Last year I got a call from a woman asking if we'd have any use for a mounted African Lion called Isaac. A friend of hers, Renee Mills, had recently died, and had left quite a collection of African artefacts and specimens, most of which were going to auction. Renee had collected him on safari in 1983 in the Okavango Delta in Botswana and he was a bit of a mascot at her travel agency. She specialised in African safaris so he was the centrepiece of her office and everyone's favourite.

Her friends and family just couldn't stand the thought of Isaac disappearing into a private collection. They were trying to find a museum that could put him on display, or use him for education or research. I told her that at the Burke we have no schedule to display any of our taxidermy. In terms of research value, we don't have a strong African mammal collection so researchers who need African mammals don't typically come to the Burke Museum. If we took him, he would be used very rarely, which wasn't what they were looking for. But I did offer to ask around and see if any other museums could use him.

When I got the photos and learned that they also had his skull and information about where he was collected, I sent an email out. Kevin Rowe at Museum Victoria was the first to reply and yesterday he finally arrived. To have a specimen like this gather dust and decay would be a crime, and I'm really happy to have him sent someplace like this and the family feels really happy that he'll be useful down here."

Group of people with lion specimen Curators and collection managers with Isaac the lion. L-R: Jeff Bradley of the Burke Museum, MV's Kevin Rowe, Karen Rowe and Karen Roberts.
Source: Museum Victoria
 

For a thirty-year-old specimen, Isaac is in extremely good condition and he will be a valuable addition to our Mammalogy Collection, especially since he is accompanied by his skull and locality data.

Lion skull Isaac's skull. It is very rare that private collectors would retain any parts of the skeleton, which is one reason why this specimen has particular scientific value.
Source: Museum Victoria

detail of scar on lion Isaac is covered in scars from altercations with other lions, including this big mark on his shoulder.
Source: Museum Victoria
 

Says Senior Curator of Mammals Kevin Rowe, "Isaac is a fantastic lion with all the marks of his life in Botswana, and this was too rare an opportunity to pass up. We are fortunate at Museum Victoria that we have the capacity to acquire him. Working with Jeff has been a pleasure and it has only strengthened our relationship with the Burke Museum in Seattle."

Links

Burke Museum of Natural History and Culture at the University of Washington

MV Blog: So many specimens

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