History society to help state mangrove cell set up skeletal frame of 43-ft blue whale for display

On Display: State mangrove cell approached BNHS over mounting frame at CMCB

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The 43-feet long blue whale was washed ashore on June 14, near Uran

Maharashtra State Mangrove Cell has approached the Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS) to set up the skeletal frame of the mammoth 43-feet long blue whale, which was washed ashore on June 14, near Uran.

The Mangrove Cell had made an ambitious plan of displaying the skeletal remains of the blue whale, which is known to be the largest animal (whale is a mammal) on earth at the Coastal and Marine Biodiversity Centre (CMCB), Airoli for the visiting tourists especially young students.

N Vasudevan, Additional Principal Chief Conservator of Forests, Mangrove Cell, informed that they want the skeletal frame to be set up near a small existing bridge at the CMCB, Airoli. "As per our plan the entire skeleton including the vertebra, ribs and skull will be first properly arranged and then mounted on a frame which will then be enclosed in a glass case and kept as an open display in a hanging manner and tourists will be able to view it while walking on a small ramp that will be built," he said adding that initially they had also approached staff from the Natural History Museum, London, who have expertise in setting up such things but, the budget was too high.

Dr Deepak Apte, Director of the BNHS informed that he has already seen the specimen and had a discussion with Vasudevan about the project and they have the necessary expertise to set up the skeletal frame as planned. "My curation team will be visiting the centre to see the condition of the specimen and then decide on the course of action," he said.

"The blue whale skeletal display will become one of the biggest attractions due to its sheer size and the way it is being planned. Visitors will get to watch the frame from close quarters and understand the need to conserve as well as the threats to living creatures," JR Gowda, Deputy Conservator of Forest, Mangrove Cell, said.

The CMCB at Airoli will also feature the first museum in the country dedicated to marine life. It will be called "Giants of the Sea" museum, which will have displays of different marine species including taxidermy and skeletal models. There will be models of Sharks, whales, and turtles and the open display of the blue whale will be part of it, Gowda informed.

All is Whale

In June, after the beaching of the blue whale at Uran, the Mangrove Cell staff decided that it will try and attempt to preserve the skeleton and it took a team of 20 specialists from Alibaug who cleared out the flesh from the skeleton. Once completed it took around 100 labourers to physically carry the vertebral portion for almost two kilometre to the nearest motorable road and load it on a trailer. It was then brought to Airoli.

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