Big Blue Forever
by Anita Miettunen

Price at time of review: $22.95
64 pp.
Red Deer Press
Markham, ON
ISBN: 9780889955424

Grade Level: 4-6

Reviewed by Judy Kraus
Science Teacher, Hyde Park Middle School

Imagine the distance of twenty–six meters. Measure the distance and stand in awe at the length of the largest mammal, the blue whale. Big Blue Forever by Anita Miettunen shares the tale of a blue whale washed ashore in 1987 on the coast of Prince Edward Island and its journey to the Beaty Biodiversity Museum in Vancouver, British Columbia.

The story is told in two parts. The first section is filled with large photographs and tells the story of the initial find of Big Blue (as the whale was named), its preservation, excavation, and eventual display. The second section explains the work in greater detail and the numerous specialists involved in the entire process. Each section may be read independently. The photographs document the entire twenty–year process to display the skeleton. The biographies of the team portray a diverse group with a variety of skills needed to accomplish this feat. From skeleton articulators to field forensic experts, each person provided a skill set to support the team’s objective and install Big Blue in the museum.

Big Blue was probably hit by a ship and washed ashore. A whale dying from natural causes typically descends to the ocean floor as its lungs collapse. When Big Blue was discovered on the shore in 1987, the decision was made to bury it rather than allow it to decay. In 2007, Dr. Andrew Trites was looking for a large skeleton to display at the new Beaty Biodiversity Museum. Working with a team of scientists they located the buried whale and were amazed at the preservation. Little decay had taken place while it was buried in the red clay. The team returned in 2008 to remove the flesh, blubber, and skin with the goal of recovering the entire skeleton. It was a complicated process and the rancid oil smell was inescapable! As they worked, they realized the left flipper was missing! Someone had removed it with a chain saw. Investigating, they located the buried bones and the team could transport the entire skeleton. In 2010, sculptors, painters, and artists worked together to reassemble the skeleton. Big Blue is home, forever displayed at the Beaty Biodiversity Museum.

Review posted on 7/19/2017

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