Posts categorized as Whales | Tohorā

Whales welcomed in Washington DC

Te Papa’s Whales Tohorā exhibition opened at the National Geographic Museum on 15 October with a traditional Māori dawn ceremony that blew Washington away! This was the same day Chile announced that its waters are now a whale sanctuary- that’s 5,500km of coastal waters protected from whale hunting for commercial or scientific purposes. A good day for… Read more »

Roseneath’s dead Pygmy Sperm whale

Anton pointing down to the washed up dead whale.

So I’m at my desk when my cell rings – its Anton (you know – our Collection Manager Marine Mammals)… “Do you wanna see a dead whale?” Of course! So off I trot (nice and quicksmart in time with whatever’s playing on my MP3) – not even worrying about what the Wellington wind was doing… Read more »

We farewell Whales|Tohorā

On Sunday evening 11 May 2008 Te Papa closed Whales|Tohorā. Over 140,000 people had visited the exhibition. During the morning several killer whales, or orca, played by the fountain in Oriental Bay – much to the delight and amazement of several of the Whales exhibition team members. We like to think it was a sign!… Read more »

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 »