Whale Vertabra
Tarbat Discovery Centre

A vertebra is a section of a spine. This belonged to a sperm whale, and measures over a metre across.   

It is believed to belong to a whale that became stranded on the rocks near Portmahomack in 1796.   

The dead whale, which was reported to be 19.5 metres long, provided huge quantities of spermaceti, a waxy substance found in the head cavity. This was prized as it was used to make candles. The whale’s blubber would also have been boiled down and used in the making of soap, leather, cosmetics and candles, as well as for fuel in oil lamps and burners.  

This vertebra shows the diversity of marine life on the northeast coast of Scotland. Sperm whales live in deep water, but occasionally become lost or stranded on Highland beaches. This is can be due to plastic ingestion causing illness, or acoustic disturbance from ships and oil extraction.  

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Date: 1700s
Materials : Bone
Size : 110cm x 64cm x 20cm

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