The Tuquoy Whale
As visitors walk up the path to the Heritage Centre they look over to the left of the building and see a pile of bones peeping above the grass.
At approximately 50 feet (16 metres) long these are the bones of a large adult male sperm whale. A French medical and biology student told us last year that it was likely 60 – 80 years old. He also told us that to preserve it we should keep it inside and wash it every three months!
Most of the bones are here, though of course, not joined together but you get a good idea of its enormous size. The head – which looks like an elephant’s foot – weighs about a ton. Sperm whales got their name from their heads. When first discovered by hunters it was imagined that the huge amount of rather sticky stuff in their heads was sperm. This has now been discounted and it is thought that this “stuff” may have some use in the long deep dives made by the whales. They can dive for as long as 90 minutes and yet they are breathing animals. They eat giant squid.
If you want to see what the whale looked like before the bones were picked clean by the local wildlife, click on the video below, which was taken by Westray resident Neil Geddes-Ward.