Whale Skeletons at Hull Maritime Museum

These images were taken at the Hull Maritime Museum. Most of them are apparently the skeleton of a North Atlantic Right Whale, but there are two exceptions: an Orca or Killer Whale, suspended in chains, and the lower jawbone of a Sperm Whale washed up on the Holderness coast and later displayed at Burton Constable. This whale is mentioned by Melville in Moby Dick (1851):

“…at a place in Yorkshire, England, Burton Constable by name, a certain Sir Clifford Constable has in his possession the skeleton of a Sperm Whale…Sir Clifford’s whale has been articulated throughout; so that like a great chest of drawers, you can open and shut him, in all his long cavities – spread out his ribs like a gigantic fan – and swing all day upon his lower jaw. Locks are to be put upon some of his trap doors and shutters; and a footman will show round future visitors with a bunch of keys at his side. Sir Clifford thinks of charging twopence for a peep at the whispering gallery in the spinal column; threepence to hear the echo in the hollow of his cerebellum; and sixpence for the unrivalled view from his forehead.”

Advertisements