A sperm whale recovered by the Lee Kong Chien Natural History Museum. Photos by (clockwise from left): Marcus Chua, Becky Lee, & Letchumi Mani
When a dead whale washed up on Jurong island on the 10th of July, 2015, nature enthusiasts across Singapore were shocked. When you think of Singapore’s marine life, many people would think of fish, crabs or maybe even sea turtles! But a whale? On our tiny island? Never!
But lo and behold, the first large whale carcass found in Singapore for over a hundred years had been found, and on Singapore’s jubilee year no less. The animal itself is a 10.6m long female sperm whale, and it is the first confirmed sighting of its kind in our waters. While it is rather upsetting that the whale was found dead, its death shall not be in vain. As of time of writing, the whale itself is being salvaged by the Lee Kong Chien Natural History museum to be made into a display!
Photo of the old “Singapore Whale”. Photo from the International Year of Biodiversity Singapore
Older readers may remember the old “Singapore whale” that used to hang in the original Raffles Museum at Stamford Road. That specimen was actually recovered in Malacca, and was an impressive 13m long. In 1974, the whale was given to Muzium Negara in Malaysia when the museum had to move to smaller premises. Today, the skeleton stands in the Maritime Museum in Labuan, off Sabah.
The museum was never really quite the same without its awe-inspiring whale skeleton. Which is why the Lee Kong Chien Natural History Museum is calling for donations to do up a new display for the sperm whale!
Jubilee whale fund logo by the Lee Kong Chien Natural History Museum
The museum hopes to inspire future generations with this display, just like how the old Singapore whale fired up imaginations in the past. The display itself will a testament to the biodiversity education, research and conservation efforts by the museum, but to do so they need financial help.
If you are interested in donating, you can do so here! If you are interested in looking at the preservation and salvaging process of the whale, you can look at photos here. Finally, to learn more about the new and old whales, you can read up on them here.
We hope that you are as excited about the whale as we are! After all, we should always remember:
Promotional art by Jacqueline Chua
Words by Jacqueline Chua