Meet Finny

The finback whale skeleton has been a beloved artifact for many years. This mammoth skeleton was acquired by the GRPM in 1905 from the estate of Dr. Jacob W. Velie of St. Joseph, Michigan. Velie acquired it on a trip to Florida’s Gulf Coast, where the whale had washed ashore.

Measuring about 75 feet in length, the fin or finback whale was a mature adult weighing between 80 and 90 tons. Shaped for speed and endurance, this large baleen mammal is native to the deeper waters of the world’s oceans. The semi-flat v-shared head, tapering flippers, and broad powerful flukes aided in propelling it through the water so swiftly that few predators could overtake it. This type of whale is a member of the sub-order Mysticeti, which means “mustached whales.” The large mouths incorporate many rows of baleen plates, a horn-like substance fringed with tiny bristles. The baleen plates sift out tiny marine animals out of gulped seawater. Known as zooplankton, these form the whale’s diet. This specimen has been restored to reflect new knowledge how whales appear underwater. Cartilage and non-bone material such as the tail flukes have been reproduced here in white foam and case acrylic.