By Erma Edera
In celebration of World Whale Day, the National Museum unveiled to the public the “Marinduque Sperm Whale ” skeleton, a 43.5-feet long sperm whale (Physeter macrocephalus) suspended from the ceiling of the National Museum of Natural History as its newest permanent display in Rizal Park, Manila on Saturday.
World Whale Day is celebrated annually to raise awareness of these majestic creatures and their plight.
“The story of how the skeleton of the whale came to the National Museum began in 1994, when a report from Porferio de Guzman of Barangay Buangan, Torrijos, Marinduque regarding a sperm whale found on the beach there was received,” the National Museum said in a statement.
“Recovered, cleaned, preserved and kept by another local, Luciano Matienzo, the almost completely intact male skeleton was purchased from him and brought to Manila as a prominent highlight of the museum’s collection of osteological specimens,” it added.
The sperm whale is the largest toothed whale in the world. It is one of the most iconic species of whale, made popular by Herman Melvilles’ classic novel Moby Dick.
The deep-diving whale was once abundant in seas all over the world including in and around the Philippines, but was hunted heavily by humans from the 18th to the early 20th centuries for its oil, which is technically a liquid wax that was once used in many products and industries.
In the Philippines, sperm whales can be seen alone or in groups just floating below the surface of the waters, particularly in the Bohol Sea, the Sulu Sea and around the Batanes group of islands. Now considered endangered, they are protected by local and international laws.
“Twenty-four years later, the Marinduque Sperm Whale will now welcome visitors to the National Museum of Natural History as they walk through its doors,” the National Museum said.