Flipper, Blue Whale

A collection of 24 bones from the flipper of a blue whale (Balaenoptera musculus). Some of these bones have been partly reconstructed with plaster and painted.
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This flipper belongs to a 26-metre blue whale that washed ashore north of Awakino in 1975. There have been nine strandings of blue whales in New Zealand. Measuring over 30 metres long, the blue whale is the largest living mammal on earth. Whalers of the 19th century were unable to catch these fast swimming mammals but they were hunted almost to extinction in the early 20th century by the steam-powered Norwegian, Russian and Japanese whaling fleets. The International Whaling Commission extended its protection to the blue whale in 1967 and there are signs of a slow recovery. The worldwide population is now thought to be about 16,000.
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