Date:22 May 2017
The whale heart was preserved from one of nine blue whales that died in Canada in 2014.
By Sophie Weiner
In 2014, tragic event for the blue whale population and scientists who are trying to keep them alive became a boon for researchers and the public. Nine blue whales died in Canada’s Newfoundland when they became trapped in ice, a whopping three percent of the blue whales in the wild. When these massive creatures, which weigh 300,000 pounds, die, they almost always sink, but in a rare occurrence, two of the whales washed ashore in Newfoundland and Labrador. Scientists were then able to salvage some of the whales organs to conduct never before done research.
Now, the preserved 273 kilogram whale heart will be on display at the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto. Blue whales have the largest hearts of all living creatures. It would be physically unsustainable for the animals to get any bigger. The heart at ROM is taller than a grown man and at least three times as wide. You could easily stick your head into one of its arteries. It’s an incredible sight to behold.
“It’s quite a bit smaller than we were expecting,” Jacqueline Miller, a mammalogy technician from ROM told Motherboard. The researchers had expected the whale heart to be the size of a small car.
The heart has now been plastinated by technicians in Germany—a preservation technique in which its water and fat are replaced by plastics and which took over a year to complete. That means that the heart will now last for as long as 1 000 years. It is displayed in the museum next to the massive skeleton of the same whale. “It really is tremendous,” Miller said. “We’re very, very proud.”
Source: Royal Ontario Museum via Motherboard
Image and video credit: Royal Ontario Museum
This article was originally written for and published by Popular Mechanics USA.