Hoisting Right Whale Skeletons


click this photo to see more in our Flickr set.

The articulation and display of the skeletons of a 48-foot long pregnant female right whale and her fetus is the culmination of events that began in November 2004, when these two animals were accidentally killed off the coast of Virginia. After the necropsy was performed, the New Bedford Whaling Museum was awarded custody of the skeletons and began the job of cleaning up the bones. Most of the bones were composted in a mixture of elephant and horse manure, straight from the Buttonwood Park Zoo in New Bedford. Once this steaming pile drew the oil out of the bones and the critters in it nibbled on the organic bits on and in the bones, the bones were removed. They were power washed and allowed to dry and bleach in the September sun.

The job of articulating the bones was started by Andrew and Jean Konnerth, who also put together our sperm and blue whales. They completed work on the skull and the vertebral column. The crew from N.C. Hudon Crane and Rigging then hoisted these bones up to the ceiling. The team from Whales and Nails, led by Daniel DenDanto, the n finished the job 25 feet in the air, by connecting ribs, flippers, shoulder blades, sternum, pelvics and fetus. The pictures you see here are from the week of November 10-14, 2008, when the bones were removed from our Bourne Building, driven two blocks around to the other side of the museum, lifted into our Jacobs Family Gallery and then up to the JFG ceiling.

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