How Old Is the Blue Whale Skeleton in the Natural History Museum?

The Natural History Museum in London is a treasure trove of knowledge, housing over 80 million specimens from the natural world. Among the many exhibits on display, one that never fails to capture the imagination of visitors is the Blue Whale skeleton that hangs majestically in the museum’s Hintze Hall.

But just how old is this incredible specimen? Let’s take a closer look.

The History of the Blue Whale Skeleton

The Blue Whale skeleton has been a fixture at the Natural History Museum since 1934 when it was first unveiled to the public. However, its journey to London began several years earlier in 1925 when a team of whalers caught and killed an adult female Blue Whale off the southern coast of South Georgia Island in Antarctica.

The whalers towed the enormous carcass to Grytviken, a small whaling station on South Georgia Island, where they proceeded to strip its blubber and render it into oil. The bones were left behind as they had little commercial value at that time.

Salvage Operation

In 1929, a young British zoologist named William Scoresby Routledge visited Grytviken and was struck by the size and beauty of the whale bones lying on the beach. He recognized their scientific value and decided to launch a salvage operation to recover them.

Scoresby Routledge enlisted the help of local workers and over several months they painstakingly collected every bone from the beach. The bones were then transported to England where they were cleaned, articulated, and mounted into a complete skeleton.

The Age of the Skeleton

So just how old is this magnificent specimen? Based on historical records, we know that it was an adult female Blue Whale when it was caught in 1925. Blue Whales are known to live for up to 90 years in ideal conditions, although their average lifespan is much shorter.

Given that the whale was an adult when it was caught, it is likely that it was at least 20-30 years old at the time. This would mean that the Blue Whale skeleton in the Natural History Museum is around 120-130 years old today.

The Legacy of the Blue Whale Skeleton

Since its arrival at the Natural History Museum, the Blue Whale skeleton has become an iconic symbol of conservation and a reminder of the impact that humans can have on the natural world. It serves as a powerful reminder of our responsibility to protect and preserve our planet’s biodiversity for future generations.

In recent years, the museum has undertaken a major renovation project to update and modernize its exhibits, including the Blue Whale skeleton. The whale was temporarily removed from Hintze Hall in 2017 to make way for a new exhibit, but it returned in 2018 to much fanfare.

Today, visitors from around the world continue to marvel at this incredible specimen and learn about its history and importance. Whether you’re a nature lover or just someone who appreciates awe-inspiring sights, a visit to the Natural History Museum and its Blue Whale skeleton is an experience not to be missed.

  • In conclusion, while we may never know exactly how old this magnificent creature was when it died, we can be sure that its legacy will continue to inspire and educate for generations to come.