02 Cotton buds and plumber’s tape | #NHM_Live

The Museum’s conservators were the stars of our second broadcast in the first #NHM_Live series, where we took a look at how they repair and maintain the millions of specimens in the collections.

Camilla Tham and Alison Shean were joined by conservators Arianna Bernucci and Cheryl Lynn to talk about mummified cats, Archaeopteryx, 1.3 kg of dust from a single specimen and some of the major specimens that will feature in the upcoming #Whales: Beneath the Surface exhibition.

To see more of their work, take a look at the #NHM_Conservators tag on Instagram.

On the inside of the stranded sperm whales | Cetacean Strandings Investigation Programme

Following the stranding of a number of sperm whales on the English coast last weekend, scientists from the Zoological Society of London (ZSL) and the Museum visited Lincolnshire from Monday 25 January to conduct autopsies on the dead leviathans.

Beach with large whale laid out on sand, surrounded by people, with the north sea behind.
A sperm whale (Physeter macrocephalus) that had washed up at Skegness, Lincolnshire, around 23 January 2016

I interviewed Rebecca Lyal, Cetacean Stranding Support Officer of the Cetacean Strandings Investigation Programme (CSIP), to find out what the autopsies have revealed thus far about the cause of death.

Rebecca, how do you go about assessing the cause of death of whales?

That can be done by looking at the recent movement of the whales, where they have come from and what their behaviour has been and then, once we’d deduced that they didn’t strand because they had got caught in a net, or had any wounds that may have made them unable to swim, we can start looking a bit deeper. This is when we started to take samples of the skin, the blubber, reading the blubber thickness, and then muscles and blood.

[Warning: readers may find the images that follow in this post upsetting.]

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