Rare 70-foot Blue Whale Skeleton To Be Preserved And Displayed At Oregon State University

Newsport, Ore. — A rare blue whale that washed up on the Oregon coast several years ago will soon be journeying to Alberta, Canada, for preservation and restoration. The skeleton will be prepared for public display at Oregon State University’s Hatfield Marine Science Center in Newport.

Oregon State’s Marine Mammal Institute has contracted with Alberta-based Dinosaur Valley Studios to clean and preserve the bones, as well as build a permanent display for them. The team will remove any remaining connective tissue, marine debris and oil before disinfecting the bones.

The project will take several months or more, depending on how much additional cleaning is needed, according to Frank Hadfield, president of Dinosaur Valley Studios. The team will preserve the bones and build a steel display structure to hold the articulated skeleton, using an external cradle system that requires no drilling, leaving the bones intact and available for study by researchers.

The blue whale skeleton contains 365 bones ranging in size from tiny to enormous, making it the largest project the studio has ever done. The company has preserved other whale skeletons and the 24-foot skull of a blue whale, but this will be the group’s first complete blue whale skeleton.

The Marine Mammal Institute’s effort to preserve the whale skeleton began in 2015, when the carcass washed ashore near Gold Beach, Oregon. Researchers bundled the remains of the skeleton in huge nets and submerged them in Yaquina Bay, where seawater and marine invertebrates cleaned the bones. The skeleton was in the water for more than three years before being removed in November 2019.

The project has received enthusiastic support from the public since the idea was first introduced, and the institute has raised $250,000 for the project. They are seeking an additional $150,000 in donations to complete the restoration and display. For more information on the campaign, “Help us build a whale,” visit: beav.es/bones.