The only blue whale heart in the world is on display


This heart weighs 181kg and is already on display at the Museum of Ontario, Canada. The organ went a long way until it reached the place where it is currently on display for visitors.

It all began in 2014, when a blue whale carcass came ashore in Newfoundland, a locality in Canada. The event quickly became popular and the locals tried to understand why that giant mammal had arrived there in those circumstances. It was to be realized later that this was one of the nine whales in that area to die after being trapped in the Atlantic ice, so it reads on the museum’s website. Now, and after a long process, the Ontario Museum will be the first in the world to expose a blue whale heart totally intact and preserved in its best possible state.

“This was an opportunity born of the tragedy that allowed us to do more with her life”, said Mark Engstrom, Director of Collections and Research on the museum’s website.

This 181kg heart is now part of the exhibition Out of the Depths: The Blue Whale Story (Out of Depths: The Blue Whale Story, in Portuguese). The magnitude of the heart, nearly two meters high, matches the animal that carried it. “It took five employees to push the heart out of the chest cavity”, Jacqueline Miller, a mammalogy expert at the museum, told Smithsonian magazine. Miller has also been part of every phase of this project, from the acquisition of the heart, to its preservation and now, exposure.

Once frozen, the heart was transported to Trenton, Ontario, where it was thawed.

Later, the team, along with veterinarians at Lincoln Memorial University, used bottles to seal the last heart cavity so that a solution could be pumped to protect the organ from decomposition. It took 2,800 liters of formaldehyde to be properly preserved.

Finally, he went to the German city of Brandenburg, where he was plastinated (technical procedure of preservation of biological material).

On May 16 of the current year of 2017, the organ arrived by plane to Toronto and entered the museum two days later. This unique specimen will be on display on September 4 along with the whale skeleton found three years ago on the Newfoundland coast.