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Thames whale comes to Museum

24 January 2006

The bones of the northern bottlenose whale that stranded in the River Thames will be looked after in the Natural History Museum's research collection.

The Sun newspaper launched a campaign to raise money towards the cost of preparing and storing the bones at the Museum.

'We'd like to thank the Sun and its readers on behalf of the Natural History Museum and the nation, for giving us this opportunity,' said Richard Sabin, marine mammal expert at the Museum. 'The whale captured the imagination of the British public, and of people all over the world, and now her legacy will live on.'

Future research

The whale remains will be looked after behind the scenes at the Museum and will be used for valuable scientific research into understanding more about the magnificent animal and her species. Information learned will go towards helping biologists and conservationists put strategies into place to protect these animals.

Rescue attempt

The five metre (18 feet) whale was spotted on 20 January 2006 and was the first ever record of this animal in the River Thames since records began in 1913.

After spending hours attempting a rescue, the whale was finally lifted onto a barge and was being taken out to sea, when it died. It is unsure what caused the whale's death but an post-mortem will be carried out this week.

Whale strandings

Northern bottlenose whales, Hyperoodon ampullatus,  do not strand around Britain very often. The last live stranding of a northern bottlenose whale was in 2003 in South West England and the animal re-floated itself and survived.

The Natural History Museum's UK Whale and Dolphin Stranding Scheme has been monitoring whale strandings since 1913.

Deep-water feeders

Northern bottlenose whales are deep-water feeders, found in the Northern Hemisphere as far as the Arctic Circle. One of the deepest divers in the sea, they were heavily hunted in the nineteenth and early twentieth century, and were not protected until the 1970s.