Almost a decade after it washed ashore on an Island beach, a full minke whale skeleton is now on permanent display at the Atlantic Veterinary College.
The whale was discovered in Goose River, P.E.I., back in June of 2010.
Since then, one of the professors involved in the necropsy, Dr. Pierre-Yves Daoust, had been hoping to some day have it on display — a lesson in comparative anatomy for generations of students to come.
‘We have every single bone’
“Really the good thing is that we have every single bone,” said Daoust.
“It’s harder with big whales because there is so much flesh, really to dig out some of those bones which are really really small.”
Over the past year, Daoust’s advocacy work on behalf of the whale skeleton paid off.
Thanks to $25,000 raised by the college, the skeleton was transported to the Magdalen Islands, and dried, cleaned and reassembled by local artist Claude Bourque.
This week, it was brought back to P.E.I. and erected in one of the college’s main gathering spaces.
Daoust couldn’t be happier with the result.
‘I find it striking’
“I’ve seen this skeleton in bits and pieces for so many years,” he said.
“But really seeing it all together like this, I find it striking. It’s really even better than I was expecting it to look, so I’m very, very happy.”
Daoust said he believes the awe-inspiring sight speaks to the potential students can achieve at the college, and to the school’s focus on marine ecology, marine biology and marine mammals and birds.
He also hopes anyone who sees it will take a moment to reflect on the health of the waters that surround P.E.I.
“I’m afraid we tend to neglect the importance of the oceans, in our case of the Gulf of St. Lawrence,” said Daoust.
“The Gulf of St. Lawrence is a tremendously rich environment and it’s all under the water. We don’t see it, we don’t tend to worry about it, but I think it’s time that we realize that we have to give more importance to the Gulf of St. Lawrence than we have been giving to it.”
Mural, exhibit still to come
The AVC plans to add an exhibit nearby, to tell the story behind the skeleton.
Officials say work continues with Indigenous artists to develop a mural that will compliment the display.
The hope is to have that completed in the coming months.