Name chosen for whale skeleton to be suspended in Carlisle museum atrium

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A giant whale skeleton that will be suspended in a museum atrium has been named.

By popular demand, the whale will be called Drigg after the Cumbrian beach which it was found on in February 2014.

It will be the centrepiece of a striking new entrance to Tullie House in Carlisle.

Other options included Wally, Tullie Whale and Boney McWhaleface.

The museum hopes that Drigg, or Driggsby as the skeleton will be nicknamed, will become an iconic feature and draw in visitors from far and wide.

Dr Simon Jackson, curator of natural sciences at Tullie House, said Drigg will be Cumbria’s version of Dippy the Dinosaur – the Diplodocus skeleton that greets visitors at London’s Natural History Museum.

Dr Jackson said: “For Tullie House it’s going to have a massive impact. It’s going to be a major centre piece.

“It’s going to open people’s minds up to endangered species.

“We’re hoping it’s going to be a major icon for Carlisle.”

At the moment Dr Jackson and a group of volunteers are cleaning the whale’s bones to remove sand, compost and any remaining flesh.

They are working outside – due to the smell – in special suits with a hose pipe, buckets and brushes. Professionals will then be brought in to extract oils in the bones and make models of missing bones.

Between a quarter and a third of the bones are thought to be missing because they decomposed or were separated from the whale while it was at sea.

The lower jaw bones, one cheek bone and six vertebrae are among the bones missing.

After Tullie House won a campaign to have Drigg, its bones were buried for a year and a half so t hat the whale’s flesh could decompose.

It has not been confirmed what kind of whale Drigg is, though it is most likely thought to be a juvenile Sei (pronounced ‘say’) whale.

The whales can be found off the coast of Northern Ireland or the west coast of Scotland but very rarely around Cumbria’s coast.

The discovery of the whale and the work that’s now going on at Tullie House involves national experts.

The museum has launched a £50,000 appeal to pay for specialist cleaning, the production of model pieces, mounting of the bones and the suspension of the full 13-14m skeleton.

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