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Sei whale

Description: A complete, 14 metre long skeleton of a Sei Whale, Balaenoptera borealis, from an adult female which became stranded in a gully at Langness on the south coast of the Isle of Man in May 1925, measuring 48ft 6in when washed ashore. The whale drew crowds of curious islanders, who appear in photographs taken at the time to document the stranding and the transport of the dead beast by three steam traction engines to a burial site near Douglas. The story goes that a police escort went on ahead through villages on route to advise householders to close their windows to keep out the powerful smell of decay. After ten years, the skeleton was at last put together, mounted and displayed in a newly built natural history gallery at the Manx Museum. It now hangs in a different gallery, as part of a natural history display opened in 2005.

Sei Whales are quite widespread in the world's oceans, though they very rarely enter the seas around the British Isles. They prefer deep water, feeding in the cooler northern seas and migrating southwards to breed and give birth. These whales have fringed baleen plates instead of teeth and feed by filtering plankton or small fish out from mouthfuls of water. They were much persecuted during the heyday of whaling in the 19th and early 20th centuries. Now considered to be endangered, they are internationally protected.

In the same year that the largest mammal ever to get to the Isle of Man met its end at Langness, the Manx Museum acquired a skeleton of the Island's smallest mammal - a Pigmy Shrew. This is on display under the whale and both specimens serve to illustrate not only the huge difference in size between the two species but also the features they share which illustrate the structural principles of the mammalian skeleton.

Measurements: 14 meters

Date found: 1925-05-08

Taxonomic name: Balaenoptera borealis

Collection: Natural History Zoology Collection

ID number: 1966-0146

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