Did you know that one of the world’s largest displayed blue whale skeletons can be found just down the coast? ‘Ms. Blue‘ is an authentic blue whale skeleton clocking in at 87 feet, and she’s quite the sight to behold. You can find this skeleton at Seymour Marine Discovery Center at Long Marine Lab in Santa Cruz, California.
According to a video from Tree and Sea TV, the massive skeleton was taken from a 50-year-old female blue whale that washed up at Pigeon Point in San Mateo in 1979. Blue whale carcasses seldom wash ashore, so a team of scientists from Long Marine Lab at UCSC went to work salvaging what they could. After 15 days cutting bones free from the flesh and hauling them up a cliff (a helicopter was used to lift the 3,500-lb skull), they were cleaned and laid out on the ground at the lab for several years.
After Long Marine Lab secured funding to mount the skeleton in 1985, they studied smaller blue whale mounts at the California Academy of Sciences and the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History. Then they got to work pressure-washing the bones, creating foam and fiberglass forms to stand in for missing cartilage, and painting the bones with exterior latex house paint. About 80% of the skeleton was mounted on a steel frame, and in 2000, casts of the missing bones were added to complete it.
The blue whale is the world’s largest animal species, perhaps ever. They can get up to 100 feet long, and weigh up to 200 tons. Blue whales usually show up off the coast of Central California in the summertime.
The Seymour Center is also home to a smaller gray whale skeleton, which you can find along the bluffs. While you’re there, make sure to step inside to see the creatures on display, which include octopus, eels, sharks, rockfish, jellyfish, and many more sea animals native to the Monterey Bay.
UC Santa Cruz and Long Marine Lab operate this community-supported science education center, dedicated to uplifting and preserving the Monterey Bay. World-renowned Long Marine Lab operates alongside it, conducting vital research about coastal conservation; climate change impacts; marine mammal diving physiology, bioacoustics, and cognition; and much more.
You can find the Seymour Marine Discovery Center at 100 McAllister Way in Santa Cruz, California. It’s open Wednesday-Sunday from 10am-4pm. General admission costs $11, and there are discounts for seniors, students, and children.
Featured image: Matthew Corley via Shutterstock