Sperm whale arrives for Deep Sea exhibition

23 April 2010

As flight travel chaos from the erupting Icelandic volcano starts to die down, one journey went smoothly last night as a 7-metre sperm whale arrived at the Natural History Museum.

Moving the sperm whale into the Museum

Moving the sperm whale into the Museum © Dan Kitwood / Getty Images

The model is one of the star exhibits for the Museum’s The Deep Sea exhibition, opening on 28 May, which takes visitors on an immersive voyage into the planet’s final frontier - the deep ocean.

The 250kg sperm whale model was brought in through the iconic main entrance under the watchful eye of Dippy, the dinosaur skeleton.

It came all the way from Berlin, Germany, and a special wooden cradle was built to carry it.

The sperm whale will be displayed in The Deep Sea along with a model of a giant squid to illustrate a battle between the 2 giants.

Sperm whales

Sperm whales, Physeter catodon, are the largest of the toothed whales and the males can grow up to 18m in length. They are the most social of the large whales and form groups lead by adult females.

Scientists know sperm whales feed on giant squid and colossal squid as the beaks of squid are often found in sperm whale stomachs.

Sperm whales live all over the world in tropical, temperate and sub-polar seas and many have been sighted in British and Irish waters. They are great divers, diving to depths of between 400-600m with some reports as deep as 2,000m.

Real sperm whale specimen

In August 2007 the Museum took delivery of a real sperm whale skull. It weighed nearly a tonne and getting it into the building was a much trickier affair than this delivery.

Once inside, the bones needed to be cleaned and then sprayed to control pests and later stored in a temperature and humidity-controlled environment, to preserve it.

The Deep Sea is open from 28 May to 5 September 2010

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