Haifa researchers 'harvest' full whale skeleton for research and display

Volunteers dig for nine hours with hand-operated instruments so as not to damage the fragile skeleton.

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September 15, 2008 21:21
1 minute read.
Haifa researchers 'harvest' full whale skeleton for research and display

whale harbor 88. (photo credit: )

The complete, 12-meter whale corpse that was buried in the North in February last year until it was "ripe" for examination was exhumed as a skeleton on Sunday. The first preserved intact whale skeleton of this type ever found in Israel, it will be added to the University of Haifa's collection. Volunteers of the Information and Assistance Center for Sea Mammals and the university's researchers said Monday that the unusual remains had been found in a fishing net. It is not known if the whale died as a result of becoming entangled in it, said university experts, "but it shouldn't have been there," said Dr. Oz Gofman, head of the dolphin project at the university's Recanati Limnological Institute and an Agriculture Ministry supervisor. Gofman was one of the four people who raised the skull of the creature, which now weighs 120 kilos. The volunteers dug for nine hours with hand-operated instruments so as not to damage the fragile skeleton. It will now be moved to a warehouse in Nir Etzion, near Haifa, so that Dr. Danny Kerem and Eliana Ratner of the University of Haifa can clean it before it is assembled and put on display. "We already have a collection of common whale skeletons, but they are not whole like this one," said Aviad Sheinin, chairman of the voluntary center. "We will now be able to study the bone density of the animal, as well as any injuries it suffered. As our collection grows, we will be able to compare our specimens with others around the world," he said. After preparing and installing the whale skeleton, the researchers' next project - in the spring of 2009 - is to dig up and install the body of a 14-meter-long whale that they found and buried eight months ago.


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