Skeleton of sperm whale put on permanent display in Vaila

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.


Add Your Comment

Add Your Comment

Please note, it is the policy of The Shetland Times to publish comments and letters from named individuals only. Both forename and surname are required.

Comments are moderated. Contributors must observe normal standards of decency and tolerance for the opinions of others.

The views expressed are those of contributors and not of The Shetland Times.

The Shetland Times reserves the right to decline or remove any contribution without notice or stating reason.

Comments are limited to 200 words but please email longer articles or letters to for consideration and include a daytime telephone number and your address. If emailing information in confidence please put "Not for publication" in both the subject line and at the top of the main message.

200 words left

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.


Get Latest News in Your Inbox

Join the The Shetland Times mailing list to get one daily email update at midday on what's happening in Shetland.