My friend David and I recently had the pleasure of visiting the Royal Ontario Museum (ROM) in Toronto. It made for, quite literally, a spectacular afternoon as we got to see many incredible specimens and artifacts collected from all around the world. The problem with museums such as the ROM and the Met (Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City) is that one could spend all day inside and still miss vast swaths of the collections. We spent a solid 3 hours in the ROM and still only scratched the surface. That said, we got to see an exhibit that featured an animal that lives below the ocean surface but must come up periodically for air. Any guesses?
As you might have suspected, the special exhibit was about whales… and specifically the blue whale (Balaenoptera musculus). It covered the 2014 story of nine blue whales, which tragically died in the icy waters of eastern Canada, two of which mysteriously washed ashore off the coast of Newfoundland. The exhibit documented the process of salvaging parts of the two bodies and bringing them to labs for analysis. Several veterinarians were consulted for the project of plastinating the heart, a job that required buckets (corks would have been way too small!) to keep the veins and arteries dilated. Apart from the news story itself, the exhibit discussed the evolution of whales from terrestrial organisms such as Pakicetus all the way to the two parvorders of cetaceans living today. There were hundreds of statistics pertaining to blue whales (such as the fact that one blue whale may ingest 60 kilograms of krill in every mouthful), and the exhibit even boasted a complete skeleton of one of the whales! If you are ever in the area, I would highly recommend you check it out!