The skeleton of the humpback whale that washed up in White Rock last summer has found a home at the Whale Interpretive Centre at Telegraph Cove on Vancouver Island.
However, it will still be some time before the whale's remains will be one display for the public, as nature is still having its way with the humpback's remains, said Paul Cottrell, pacific marine mammal co-ordinator for the Department of Fisheries and Oceans.
"So the whale was taken out of White Rock and what we did was arrange for a tug to take it out to Telegraph Cove, which is near Port McNeil," explained Cottrell. "Then we collected the stomach for analysis and the remaining bones were put in an underwater covering and carnivorous life are eating away at it, so hopefully this time next year it will be ready for the next stage, which will be cleaning off the bones and drying them."
Following that, Cottrell said the skeleton will then be prepared for public display at the centre, where it will join the remains of other marine mammal skeletons.
"The Whale Interpretive Centre is a non-profit group that has an amazing marine collection," said Cottrell, "They've got a fin whale, a killer whale, a grey whale, but they didn't have a humpback whale. It's probably one of the best institutions in Canada for marine mammal skeleton specimens and this is definitely going to be a big piece for their museum."
As for how the centre took ownership of the remains, Cottrell said there really weren't a lot of options when it came down to figuring out what to do with the carcass.
"It's not a simple thing to take responsibility for, because (humpbacks are) a threatened species so the remains have to be used for education or research, that's the only exemption for possession for a skeleton of a threatened species," said Cottrell. "So that was great that we could find the Whale Interpretive Centre to take in the carcass and deal with it appropriately and to have it end up for display for the public to enjoy."
Finally, Cottrell hopes residents of coastal cities such as White Rock will be on the lookout for whales and other marine life in the future in the hopes of preventing something like the whale beaching from repeating itself.
"We always like to encourage people to call 1-800-465-4336, the marine mammal response number, if anyone sees a distressed, tangled or injured mammal," said Cottrell. "It's calls from citizens that it really makes our program work and while it was too late for this one, the more eyes and ears we have out there the better chance we have at getting to an animal before it gets too bad."
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