23rd March 2019
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Skeleton of sperm whale put on permanent display in Vaila

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Dorota Rychlik (left), John Abernethy and Andrew Kitchener with the whale bones. Click on image to enlarge.

Dorota Rychlik (left), John Abernethy and Andrew Kitchener with the whale bones. Click on image to enlarge.

A 42ft sperm whale which beached on the isle of Vaila nine years ago has had its skeleton put on permanent display there.

The young male was already dead when it was stranded on the rocks in the winter of 2000 and island owners Richard Rowlands and Dorota Rychlik decided to preserve the bones.

Now the skeleton has been given a permanent resting place on the isle at Cloudin, where visitors can see it in a specially-adapted building.

It took two salmon landers to bring the carcass ashore where a six-strong team cut it up and two diggers buried the flesh in pits.

Following the advice of principal curator of mammals and birds at the National Museum of Scotland Andrew Kitchener, the bones were boiled for 36 hours in biological washing powder in tanks and then bleached to counteract the effects of the washing powder.

The bones had lain in a shed for severals. The couple were sent a blueprint for re-assembling the bones by expert John Abernethy.

Mr Kitchener performed the opening ceremony on Monday, saying the exhibition was a remarkable achievement which many musuems would not be able to do.

Ms Rychlik said: “I am completely beside myself. It’s great to have ‘bony dick’ in his resting place.”

For full story, see this Friday’s Shetland Times.


About Rosalind Griffiths

I am a Shetland Times reporter covering news, including health stories, and features. I have been in Shetland for more than 30 years.

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