Posts written by Jane Keig

Update on dissection and findings


The whale has now been completed dissected and the organs such as intestine, kidneys and heart, are being preserved in a formalin solution. the bones are being flensed (stripped of muscle). The stomach content revealed nothing out of the ordinary. Dr Joy Reidenberg is now in the process of investigating respiratory tract. Above you can… Read more »

Viscera revealed

This morning the internal organs were individually explored. The blood vessels near the heart showed that this whale successfully changed from an intra uterine to extra uterine life (technically, the ductus arteriosus was closed). The ductus arteriosus is a blood vessel that circulates oxygenated blood received from the mother whale while the baby whale is… Read more »

Last day of dissection


This morning the internal organs will be removed and preserved in jars for later study. I am assured that this will reduce the smell – I have a pretty good stomach for this kind of thing but whale guts smell bad! You can see part of the jaw being removed in the above picture and… Read more »

Lungs and heart


Above is a picture of the Pygmy right whale lung, it’s about 45cm long when stretched out like it is below. The lungs sit under the backbone of the whale and isn’t divided into lobes like human lungs are. The scientists told me that they think it’s smaller than usual in a whale of this… Read more »

Guts ‘n’ stuff

  • lymph-nodes
  • intestine-with-lymph-nodes
  • lung
  • annotated-under-the-ribs1

The scientists have removed the rib bones from one half of the whale. It’s getting a little bit smelly! When the scientists lifted the intestine out, I could see it was attached by a thin but very tough membrane and in the membrane were… Not chicken pox! Those darker lumps are lymph nodes! Lymph channels… Read more »

How baby whales feed


Above you see the tongue of the baby pygmy right whale. Whales lips aren’t flexible enough to form a suction around the mother’s nipple like human babies do. To latch on to the mother’s nipple, a baby whale curls its tongue. A good suction is assisted by the flaps on either side of the tongue… Read more »

Update from scientists-rib structure


The scientists are removing the muscle layer to reveal the pygmy right whale’s unusual bone structure. This is Dr Sentiel Rommel’s thoughts on the rib structure: You can see the ribs gradually changing to the unique flattened and overlapping ribs on the right. the space between the ribs allows them to move as the whale… Read more »

Hairs? on a whale?


I was a bit surprised to find out that whales have hair! Cath Kemper said: ‘Most whales and dolphins are born with a few hairs on their face. Most will lose these hairs within weeks of birth but some species, such as humpbacks and maybe pygmy right whales, retain them as adults.’

Bites on the whale


It was earlier blogged that the wounds on the whale were from cookie cutter sharks. Te Papa’s Fish collection manager, Andrew Stewart, came to have a look and this is his expert opinion: ‘Based on where the whale came ashore, the scars are probably from the cookie cutter rather than the seal shark (a larger… Read more »